At the tender age of 44, Barbara Singer decided to reinvent her life. In one tense and anxiety filled year, her only child went off to school, she got divorced, and then fell in love with a new man, but he suddenly died. She found herself looking at twenty years before retirement running and chasing money on the 7am to 10pm treadmill of the American Dream. She realized she could not keep up the pace and remain sane and successful. She wanted freedom, adventure, travel, and romance.
So she jumped off the track, gave up her career, and traveled across the country in an RV from Pennsylvania to Alaska and back. She lived on a sailboat in the Caribbean. Then, she went to Italy and spent four months living in Tuscany.
In her new book Living Without Reservations, Singer shares how she did it and offers an arsenal of ideas about how anyone can have an "Eat, Pray, Love" experience themselves and reinvent their own lives.
Barbara says that you don't need to earn a lot of money. Without the trappings of the American lifestyle, it actually takes very little money to live. The real goal in life is to collect experiences and enjoy people, not just to go shopping and buy and collect stuff. You can live and travel when and where you choose without incurring great expense.
Right now, she says, it is readily feasible to live abroad and travel comfortably and safely, on less than $1,000 a month.
Living Without Reservations chronicles her odyssey around the world and describes the many challenges and decisions she made along the way.
"But," says Singer, "you've got to confront yourself and make choices."
Once you make the decision, she says, your view of the world changes. From then on you think: I am moving. I am mobile and travel light. I need nothing. Everything is negotiable. I choose to spend my time differently. I choose to spend money differently. I choose to live my life differently. I choose to decide what is best for me, not what others think is best for me.
Here are Singer's tips for making a personal transformation that allows you to slowly but steadily develop and realize a lifestyle change; if you take just some of her suggestions, you'll be well on the way to a dream come true:
>> Get Ready Mentally. Your attitude is far more important than the check book balance. Focus 100% on creating the lifestyle that you want. Be acutely aware of how you spend your time and money. If it is not bringing you closer to your goal, it is taking you farther away. There are no neutral actions. You must believe in why and what you are doing with all your heart. You are no longer marching in step with everyone else. You are choosing a different path and will be making daily decisions that others will question. Don't listen to anyone who is negative. Stop doing anything that doesn't bring you joy. Quit all organizations, commitments. Change your daily routine and spend time alone in nature. Plan your strategy.
>> Liquidate Your Home. Rent it to someone else or sell it. The goal is to travel light. You will be renting a room from someone else somewhere in the world, perhaps even several times a year in different locations. Rent or sell your home furnished if you can. It will save you a lot of hassle of moving and selling furniture and household goods that have very little resale value. You will pay to keep stuff that no one, including you, will want years from now. Sell antiques or valuables on Ebay. Hold a garage sale. Consign designer clothing and expensive jewelry. Avoid storing anything except personal keepsakes. If you have debt, rent your extra bedrooms, attic, basement, or garage to others who need space for storage.
>> Get Rid of Your Car. Stop your car lease or car payments; sell it and then buy something under $5,000, and get the minimum insurance required by your state or province. You will cut two bills with this one move. Most of the time, your car will just sit unused while you are out of the country.
>> Stop All Re-occurring Monthly Charges like cable TV, lawn care, pool care, cleaning service, car detailing, beauty treatments, memberships, and classes. You will have plenty of time to do these things yourself because you are not doing any of the old time-wasters of the past. Eat all meals at home. Use up all household products in your pantry, bathroom, wine cellar/bar, and garage. Buy nothing!
>> Forget About Security and Responsibilities. Security doesn't exist. It is a big lie. All kinds of unexpected events can change our lives in a second like a heart attack, car accident, getting fired, or divorced. Live today joyfully rather than spending time, energy, and money on days that may never come. You will handle what actually happens. You are only responsible for yourself. Let others stand on their own. Providing for others actually weakens them by making them dependent. If you just said, "I would love to do that, but" . . . everything after the "but" is your ego talking. I can assure you, that if you died tomorrow, everything after the "but" would some way or some how be taken care of.
>> Get Healthy. Since you will be living and traveling abroad, you need to be in good shape. Get off all medications, and get in your correct weight category. Look toward alternative medicine if need be. Buy catastrophic health insurance with a big deductible, and shop around for the best price. The healthier you are, the cheaper your monthly rate.
>> Get Mobile. Get a laptop and learn to find all the information about your finances and other important things online. Stop every piece of paper mail and learn how to get what you need from anywhere in the world. Get a post office box at Mailboxes Etc. And have them forward you the mail every so often.
>> Living Without a 9-5 Job. Focus on the gift of exchange. You may not have money, but you have something much more valuable: time and talent. Practice thinking of ways to get what you need without using money. Always give more than you receive in cash value. Do your best and think win/win. I trade you this X and you give me Y. Every time you spend, think how you could get this without paying money. You can have everything you need to live your dream life without a huge pile of money. Start in small hops. Take a leave of absence, unpaid for a month or two. You will be surprised how many employers would love that. You would take time off unpaid if you or your loved one was sick, why not when you are well.
There are lots of ways to make money without a real job and all the deductions from a normal paycheck. Trade out for services you need. Clean for the dentist or paint his fence. Let your natural talent shine, and the money will come. Offer something you enjoy doing, such as babysitting, tutoring, yard work, painting, caring for the elderly or sick, music lessons, computers, fixing things, organizing closets, helping make a garage sale, or running errands. You can even trade your room rent for these activities.
>> Work On the Road. Work when it's right, then make it last as long as you can. That's my motto. You work in season in the states and then travel wherever you want until it is time to work again. If you have skills you can freelance your self anywhere. If you don't, you can still find good paying or tipping jobs, for a few months during high season, at restaurants and resorts in destination towns, Aspen, Key West, Whistler for example. Then you can fly to Italy or the Carribean, rent a room for a month at a time, and go on from there. When you head to the destination and high caliber tourism locations during high season, everyone is hiring. The beauty of moving around is that you get to choose a place where the weather and recreational opportunities meet your desires.
>> Make Your Plans and Study Now. You may simply want to move to someplace new and get set up from scratch. You can do that. If you have a particular country in mind, apply for a visa before you quit your job and travel. Every country has different restrictions, so get online and do your homework tons of resources at your fingertips. It is easier to find work once you are already there, not the other way around. You can't even imagine the opportunities until you are there to see what is happening. Find work with housing included: working on a cruise ship, or Club Med-type resort, or as a caretaker, or live-in nanny. Work for an American company abroad. Work for the National Park system. Find opportunities at Caretakergazette.com. Work on a boat and be paid crew try Crewfinder.com or 7knots.com.
>> Another excellent resource for all sorts of unusual ideas for working, studying, teaching, and living globally is Transitions Abroad, a highly respected print and online magazine.
>> Go With the Flow. You don't have to plan out the rest of your life. Break it down into little chunks. Rent a room for a month at a time or plan to stay in an area for a season. If you suddenly decide to go touring, you can keep costs low by staying in hostels (no longer just for youths). There are also organizations that offer assistance to travelers, such as Servas.org. Once you are on the road, fellow travelers are an excellent source of information. You do not need to have an agenda or great expectations. Stay light and be flexible.
>> Be Helpful and Be Useful. Visit without mooching. If you are lucky and have friends and family in places you want to visit, go see them, and be useful. Offer your talents. Offer your time. Work freely and wholeheartedly. While there, you can wait for the roofer or the air-conditioner inspector to arrive, take the dog to the vet, clean the pool, mow the grass, take the car in for repairs, hang drapes, paint, do yard work whatever you can do to be helpful and appreciative. Make people happy and leave a favorable impression.
>> Hit the road. Go ahead. Decide to meet new people living incredible lifestyles. You will blow your mind and eyes wide open.
Don't be afraid! You will learn to trust the laws of the universe. You will find courage you never knew you had.
Barbara Singer is a lifelong student of self help and motivation. Her greatest passion is inspiring others to wake up and start living. Her book, Living Without Reservations, is available from her website: BarbaraElaineSinger.com.
>> From: Annie Demirjian in Bratislava. What an inspiring article. Go girl! (or Go Girls!)
>> From: Barbara Singer. I am in Tuscany (September 2010), waiting to start the grape harvest. The winery is the same one as in the book. This morning, we went to hunt Porcini mushrooms in the fog and dampness. Perfect for mushrooms! We found seven and will have homemade pasta with mushroom sauce for lunch. Yesterday, I went to Florence and spent a rainy day inside the Pitti Palace. I just get lost in all the art and glorious grandeur of yesteryear. Then they tap me on the shoulder and say it is closing time and I must go. Life is good.
P.S. You are welcome in Tuscany anytime. A wonderful old stone hotel near by is Borgo di Fontebussi.