Semi Early Retirement for a Location Independent Professional

GoodDaySupriseSep 09, 2010: Early this week, we received an email from a lady who chanced upon our blog while browsing the web. Her succinct note informed us about how she is leading a life in semi early retirement in her mid thirties! Curious to know more about her life, we wrote back immediately. Guess What? This lady, Mary*, turned out to be one of our childhood friends! We were neighbors. But while we were still kids, Mary's family moved back to UK. Since then we had lost touch. Truly life is full of wonderful surprises!

In a bid to catch up quickly, we had a conversation on Skype. Mary said that after high school, she went to college for four years. She graduated with a major in English literature and a minor in fine arts. However while studying, during summers she worked as a freelance writer. It gave her a good amount of pocket money which she spent with gay abandon :). Since she was interested in fine arts she had also tried several odd jobs at various advertising companies. In one of these projects she was introduced to graphics design. She loved it so much that she decided to pursue it as a hobby. With whatever free time she had, Mary honed her skills in graphics design.

CollegeAfter graduating Mary worked full time for a couple of years as a writer. Initially she loved her job in a big publishing house. But soon the long hours, crazy deadlines and peer pressure started taking their toll on her health. She also wanted to travel and see the world. There was no way she could do that while working full time. So she decided to explore further.

She touched base with her college friends. One of them introduced her to the internet. This guy was a layout designer for a top magazine. He also used to do freelance gigs for various companies and used the web to conduct his business. This friend of hers kindled her old fire for graphics design. So Mary hooked up with an internet service provider, purchased an USB modem and began exploring the web. All her weekends and nights were spent in discovering the fascinating world of the internet. Needless to say she was attracted to graphics design and freelance opportunities as a writer across the globe.

Squirrel Away Your SavingsFor a year, she worked full time and devoted her weekends to earning extra income as a freelance writer on the web. She also developed her skills for being a pro graphics designer. By now, she knew that to travel around the world, she'd need a good amount of savings to support her. So she squirreled away every pound and led a frugal life. She invested her savings in certificates of deposits which yielded a fixed income. Mary had no time for the stock market and did not want to gamble with her hard earned money. So she chose an investment vehicle that was simple and easy to maintain :).

After another year of working in this mode, she quit her full time job and became a full time freelance writer. She got several contracts from her already existing network of business contacts as well as the web. Since she had some extra time she also did small graphics design projects. Within a couple of years she had a healthy stream of income from her freelance work as a writer and designer. Amidst all these developments, Mary also enjoyed her vacation trips across UK. Above all, she loved working for herself :).

ParisMary's goal of seeing the world was always at the back of her mind. But she was tied to working from home since she did not have laptop or mobile broadband. As a first step towards being a location independent professional, Mary decided to invest in a laptop. This helped her immensely since she could write articles while traveling. Then Mary decided to try a small experiment of integrating her work and travel. She planned a five days trip to Paris. During these five days she chose to work at her convenience and use internet caf├ęs to communicate with her clients. It worked out well. She enjoyed her sight seeing and at the same time did not have to skip work. In addition, this trip also opened a gateway to further freedom for Mary.

While traveling back to London from Paris, Mary noticed a gentleman checking email on his laptop. Politely she asked him about the knowhow behind his internet connection. He showed her a small device connected to his laptop - he explained that these tiny usb devices were known as dongles for laptops. He worked as a sales officer for a big multinational company and his company had provided him with a mobile broadband connection. This enabled him to send back sales data reports from his company's clients on the fly. Mary's curiosity was aroused since this meant that she could be a full time location independent professional. She inquired if it was possible for residential customers to get such connections. The gentleman said that she'd have to find that out for herself since he used his company's mobile broad band connection and did not have a personal one.

mobile broadbandUpon her return to London, Mary set out on a search for mobile internet providers. At that time, there were only a couple of service providers. She immediately signed up with one of them to see how the deal would work out for her. Of course now a days there are several such service providers all over UK and dongles are very popular. Coming back, Mary's experiments with her mobile broadband dongle worked out well. She could carry on her business on the go. However she was limited to areas covered by her mobile service provider. That worked out fine since she usually traveled to some big city every couple of days.

Mary has got rid of her rental apartment and has limited her possessions to bare bones essentials. She uses her parents's home as her physical address. She communicates mostly by email and her cell phone. A part of her annual fixed income from certificates of deposits pays her fixed costs like medical coverage and travel insurance. Her online business sustains her globe trotting costs and taxes. Since Mary is a frugal person, she always travels economy class and optimizes her lodging costs to the best of her abilities. However food is one area where she does not compromise. She eats healthy because she knows that health is wealth. More so since she travels a lot.

World TravelTo protect her nest egg from inflation, Mary usually purchases a couple or more new certificate of deposits every year. Since she does not possess a car, house or kids, she has no recurring monthly mortgage payments or need to save money towards college education for kids. That means she is debt free, has a nest egg that covers her fixed expenses, designs her own life, earns as much as needs to cover her variable costs for a particular year, and enjoys her time doing what she loves most :). At present Mary plans to see all of Europe before she embarks on more ambitious projects like Asia and Americas.

We wished Mary all the best along with heartfelt thanks for sharing her story with us. Serendipity got us in touch with Mary. Perhaps it's a message from the universe to pull up our socks and start living our dreams "now" while we are young and healthy. Pushing our dream life to an unknown future when we are old and incapable of living our dreams is perhaps a recipe for disaster. With a laser sharp focus on our goal, continuous effort and some luck, all of us can create and lead our dream lives like Mary did :).

Let us know how you liked Mary's story. We are looking forward towards your feedback. Have a nice weekend ahead :).

Image Source(s): iStockPhoto

* Name has been changed to protect the person's privacy