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1. Tell us about yourself and sum up your travels for us.
We're Pat, Ali, Ouest and Lowe Schulte. Ali and I are from Minnesota—our kids are from Mexico. I was a commodities trader in Chicago before we sold everything we owned and took off to sail around the world.
After that adventure we spent two years driving the PanAmerican and Europe in a '58 VW bus, sailed Mexico for a few years with our young babies, then RVed around the States and Mexico for a couple years.
Right now we are in the Bahamas on our third boat. We've been traveling for 15 years now, and have visited somewhere between 60 and 70 countries—we lost track somewhere in the forties, and never bothered to tally it up again.
2. How have you funded your travels?
We made a good chunk of money in our twenties and decided to bail out before I lost it. Being a Chicago pit-trader there was always that risk. I paid myself a wage of $25,000/yr, and combined with Ali's $50,000/yr we lived comfortably in downtown Chicago. Our real money sat in my trading account at work, always at risk, but growing quite large for a kid in his twenties.
When our friends started having babies and moving to the suburbs we veered off in a very different direction. Despite having never been on a sailboat before, we figured we'd go sail around the world for four years. After that we would move back to Chicago and do it again. By the time we hit Italy we knew that wasn't going to happen—we were traveling lifers. Work as we had known it was a thing of the past.
I wrote a couple of books in my thirties, but aside from that, and my personal trading (now online instead of the trading pits), we skated through the decade without doing much in the way of earning an income. We had a large blog following, but never made any effort to capitalize on that, as we were doing just fine with my sporadic trading. Straight out of college I had taken a job in the lowest rungs of trading, and had worked my way up quickly until I was trading for myself at 25. It was all I had ever done, and I didn't give it a whole lot of thought. It was just how I made money—no better, worse, more or less interesting than the way everyone else gets by.
But a couple of years ago I sort of stumbled upon the fact that this wasn't normal. I offered to be a trading mentor for five people, and the demand was so overwhelming that I decided to expand it.
Fast forward a little more than two years and I've now got a partner, dozens of subscribers to my active trade mentor program ($99/mo), and many hundreds of subscribers to my weekly Wanderer Financial newsletter ($799/yr), and trade alerts which have handily beaten the overall market. Because I don't advertise my services, all my subscribers arrive organically through my travel blog, Bumfuzzle.com, which has the benefit that we are all very much of the same mindset. My subscribers are adventurers, travelers, and entrepreneurs—not Ferrari collectors. It's a fun group, eager to learn, and supportive of each other's trading and grand plans for the future.
3. Tell us about your budget.
When we first started out we kept very detailed books. For years and years we kept track of every single penny spent, and posted it on our site. It was extremely helpful in understanding where our money had gone. Without it we would almost certainly have spent more than we thought we were. Years later we no longer keep track of every penny. We don't need to—we've become very good at controlling our spending well within our means. We are very good about distinguishing between a want and a need. We use the old trick—don't buy anything until you've needed it three times.
On our sail around the world we spent an average $3,100/mo for 3 1/2 years, and driving around the world we spent $2,942/mo over two years. That was every single penny we spent—from boat and car repair, gas, shipping, food, medical and dental, to flights to visit family—not a single thing left out. These days, with two kids and a good income, we average $4,000/mo. We don't have a specific budget any longer, but find our lifestyle alone limits our spending to well within our personal means.
For a couple of years we spent most of our time in an RV on the beaches of Mexico. Every aspect of our life was inexpensive during those times. Currently we live on a boat again, a 1986 Grand Banks 42' Trawler. Boats are more expensive than RVs—there is no way around that fact. We're also in the Bahamas at the moment where everything is a minimum of five times more expensive than Mexico. Fortunately, with this more expensive place comes the benefit of hundreds of islands, where anchoring is free, and entertainment—swimming and beach combing—is too.
4. What have you learned about money since hitting the road?
When we first set out we thought we could sail on $1,500 per month easily. We grossly underestimated cost of upkeep and repair, even to a new boat. We eventually settled into a $3,000 a month budget that allowed us to do absolutely everything we wanted to do and still earn enough trading sporadically to keep going. Can it be done cheaper? Of course it can. For instance, we didn't even bring along the ability to cook on our VW bus trip. For two years we ate every single meal out—a terrible way to save money, but a great way to get immersed in a culture.
Overall, traveling has been slightly more expensive than we would have expected, but still a fraction of what a normal brick home in the burbs would be with a couple one-week vacations every year.
5. What's your top tip for someone trying to figure out how to make long-term travel financially possible?
Gather up enough money to make it happen for a year, and then wing it. You'll be surprised by a couple of different things. One, just how many interesting people you'll meet, and how many different backgrounds they bring with them. You can learn a lot from these people, and depending on who you make friends with, opportunities will present themselves. There are a million ways to earn money while traveling, and you'll see a lot of them on display when you get out there. Two, you'll amaze yourself with your ingenuity. By giving yourself that time to simply think, you'll come up with a longer-term travel solution.
6. If someone wanted to follow in your footsteps, are there any online resources you’d recommend?
If someone wants to do what I do, then the best resource is to simply join Wanderer Financial. It sounds like a shameless plug, but the fact is, this is how I've made a living for over 20 years.
My trading partner and I spend a few hours a day in a chat discussing trading, charts, setups, risk management, and everything else related to the markets. We write blog posts, we answer hundreds of questions a week, and we spend pretty much all our free time analyzing the markets just because it's what we love to do. For years we did this in isolation, now we offer it up to others, and we all have a fun time doing it.
7. What's some of your favorite travel gear that enables you to do what you do?
There is literally not one thing that we own that we couldn't also do without. I get that people are gear junkies. It's fun to get shiny new things, but my opinion is that none of it matters. If you really want to travel, you'll do it whether you have a 2 pound backpack or a 22 pound pack, a Macbook Pro or a Dell, a DSLR or a phone, whether you've got a 27' monohull sailboat, or a 44' catamaran—none of that makes a bit of difference. In fact, we're such non-gear people that we haven't even owned a phone in fifteen years.
I'd suggest that one of the biggest reasons we have been able to travel the world so widely, and on so many different modes of transportation, has been our ability to live light. After three years of living on a boat with two kids, we were able to pack everything we owned into a handful of boxes and fly from Mexico to our new RV in the States. After three years in an RV we were again able to pack up everything we owned in an SUV and move cross-country to a boat. Basically, by not being weighed down by possessions we are able to quickly and easily pick up and move from one adventure to the next. So, our gear recommendation is, less gear.
8. Where can people follow your travels?
For nearly fifteen years I've blogged about our life at www.bumfuzzle.com
You can also find us on Facebook
For more information about my financial trading, check out Wanderer Financial