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Month: July, 2012

The Plan

Forget the old “best laid plans…” adage.  We need a plan. 

My most original plan, as a kid, was to be an airline pilot or FBI agent. Neither happened and life was good. Next plan, get our family’s 1st college degree and live it up. Got the degree but married way too young, in that process. Life was good, thanks to two little girls.  Planned to marry once and live happily….blah, blah, blah….never happened. Wife #2 makes me feel like #1 never existed sometimes. Unconditional love will do that. Planned to have the normal 2.3 kids, as demographics forecast.  Nope. We have 4 and all are good-looking and smart. Go figure. Career “plans” are a moving target. Took chances that paid off big and others flopped miserably. Best laid plans, you know. Really. We need a plan. 

We need a plan for the next big thing. Here goes….but, a little backstory, please…  

The next four years are a time that our two young ladies enjoy & complete their undergraduate experience, where each have earned full scholarships to a great, private university, and each will be off to do whatever they dream to do someday.  Why should their parents be any different?  The same years see our little guys heading fast towards the most challenging, awkward, and dysfunctional time of life (okay, not including middle-age years)…their middle-school years. Isn’t a real adventure just perfect for these years?  I digress. We need a plan. 

Weeks of googling, reading, linking, and a little networking tell me one thing….there are much more adventurous and positive places for these two parents to raise two future, interesting, and considerate men.  Too much technology, toys, and Jones-ing influences here for us to battle. We need simple, much like our downtown life…but even better. Simple. Beautiful. Cheap. And the easiest pleasures are opportunities right out the door at a nice beach, the little school house, that ancient church, and the food pantry we can help make happen.  I digress. We need a plan. 

Belize. Panama. Costa Rica. Uruguay. Even Mexico’s NW coast!  All are open and welcome ex-pats, in different ways. It’s just a proper formula of quality-of-life, cost of living, business opportunities, and security that will create our “plan” sooner than later. Belize looks great with no language barrier and an extraordinarily diverse offering of vast places to disappear and small spaces to congregate with Canadians and other North Americans…including our GenX and Boomer friends in need of a temporary or permanent getaway.  We all need that plan. 

Most informative resources to plan a plan around a plan are….

http://www.LiveAndInvestOverseas.com

http://www.InternationalLiving.com

http://www.PathfinderInternational.net

http://www.ExpatFocus.com

http://www.VRBO.com (for long-term rental info)

And let’s not forget Mexico Edd, who prompted me into this next-life realm about 9 months ago. You can find him and his adopted village school kids on facebook.  Very purpose-driven mission and fun fellow, indeed. He has a plan.  

Like the old infomercial mantra says, “facts tell, but stories sell”. So fitting for this plan. “live in paradise for $600 a month!”. Really?  “Modest living for only $1,000 a month”.  Getting warmer.  “live a life you always dreamed of for $2,000 or less per month”. Much better. Truth of the ex-pat life is that you can live in beautiful places for much less than here, Florida, California, and almost anywhere in America that’s worth living. It’s just a fact. We need a plan. 

How do we get there?  We slash and save. Gin was serious or joked about living like college kids. Fine.  Bring it on. I know the figure we need and we can have it ready in four years. Slash and save is the challenge now.  Plus, we sell everything we cannot take in material goods and give away anything that’s left. 4-5 years of new life expenses are what we need to save.  Creating new business ventures, connecting with local entrepreneurs, and/or finding partner businesses stretch our budgeted savings even farther.  Two smart sales pros & marketers like these two parents can figure out how to generate $1,000 or more month and make that savings go farther, up to 10-15 years!  Then, if the U.S. government still exists…we’ll have our pre-funded, taxpayer retirement every month, as promised…..maybe.  (Truth be told…the collapse of our federal government is possible, if we run up $20t to $25trillion in debt with $1trillion+ interest due every year.  Makes a 3rd world country look strong).  We need this plan. 

The plan is so simple. Love. Live. Plan. Slash. Save. Plan. Sell. Prepare. Convert. Plan. Move. Live. Love. And, Ginny’s favorite….Engage…while living and loving. 

Join us, won’t you?

Sincerely, 
Brad

Dream BIG!

Watching The Open now.  The British isles are beautiful and offer a tremendous opportunity.  Just like North America. However, let’s look towards the Carribean.  Much bigger upside there. Thinking Belize, Ecuador, Panama, Uruguay, or Costa Rica.  Check them out.  Your Paradise Found

It’s just a matter of time….

And here’s great advice from someone who knows how to live big…

By Susan Haskins of International Living –

“My husband Dan Prescher and I recently celebrated 10 years of living the expat life. We’ve lived in seven different locations (in Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Ecuador) and spent considerable amounts of time in many, many more—especially Belize and Costa Rica.

Believe me, we’ve learned a lot in the past decade!

Importantly, we’ve learned that it’s impossible to compare and contrast the merits or disadvantages of entire countries.

Years ago we’d talk confidently about the benefits of Mexico versus Ecuador…or Panama versus Costa Rica. But we’re finding that we don’t do that too much these days.

It’s not because there aren’t differences between entire countries… there are obvious and, sometimes, major ones. The visa choices and requirements of Belize may be a better match for you than those of Nicaragua. Panama’s tax laws may meet your needs better than those of Costa Rica right now.

But when it comes to quality of life—which is, after all, the thing that most people are looking for when they think about retiring or living abroad—Dan and I find that comparing countries is far too difficult.

For instance, in the last couple of years, Dan and I have thought a lot about the locales we’d most consider as a place to really call home… at least for a while. We’ve talked about what countries we like, but we have been much more dialed in on specific locations within those countries.

When we decided on Cotacachi, Ecuador as a home base, it was only partly because it was in Ecuador, one of our favorite countries. It was more because of what Cotacachi itself offered… peace and quiet, a very interesting and colorful culture, safety and security, an extremely low cost of living and—for us—the perfect climate… not too hot and not too cold. All of these things mattered far more than what Ecuador itself offered as a country.

When you approach the idea of living overseas, you naturally start from a country level, but if you do your research well, you inevitably sharpen your focus on specific locations.

Laidback Lake Living or Coasting on the Caribbean?

Take Costa Rica… with a bit of research it’s easy to see why it’s a wonderful place to live and retire. It’s an extraordinarily beautiful and diverse country—truly a place with something for everyone, whatever your lifestyle needs or desires. And health care there is among the best (and most affordable) in the world.

But once you’re determined that Costa Rica is the place for you, then you need to drill down and figure out where to live… In a country as diverse as Costa Rica, this can be tough. Perhaps you’d prefer the gorgeous laid-back lake country of Arenal…or the urban convenience of the Central Valley…or the tropical splendor of the newly opened southern coast near Ojochal…or even the adventure of the Caribbean coast.

Same with Ecuador or Mexico… are you after the size and excitement of a city like Quito or lively Puerto Vallarta? Or are you after small-town village life in a place like Cotacachi or Ajijic?

Maybe you’re a surfer… In that case, you might set your sights on Ecuador’s Pacific coast near Salinas or Mexico’s Pacific Coast state of Oaxaca. Scuba divers might want to check out Tulum on Mexico’s Riviera Maya…or even go farther south to Belize.

Like many of our friends and fellow writers for International Living, Dan and I have been lucky enough to live in or near many of these locations long enough to have made the jump from being tourists to being locals. That’s why you’ll often find us writing about specific locations within countries rather than the countries themselves.

Your quality of life can vary enormously from the west side of Mexico to the east, from the north of Nicaragua or Belize to the south, even from one neighborhood of Quito, San Miguel de Allende, or Panama City to the other.

Assessing exactly what you’re looking for as a potential expat, then getting past the “Europe vs. Latin America” stage to the “Ecuador vs. Panama” stage and well beyond—to pinpointing a specific location that matches your requirements, will not only save you time and effort, it will focus your thinking on what’s most important to you.

A final tip: Taking advantage of the experience offered by those who actually live in the specific locations you’re considering is a great way to get the kind of boots-on-the-ground intelligence you need to make those decisions. Ask probing questions, listen to their advice, and look before you leap.”

Dependence Days

So much to reflect upon this time of year, when we celebrate independence day again with our family and friends. We celebrate freedom like no other country in the world, yet we are dependent on other countries like no other country in the world.  America’s greatest days are probably behind us at this point. It’s just a hunch. True leadership and heroes of this generation and generations to come seem to be in very short supply.

Real leadership and heroic decisions have been replaced by pure politics and the art of distraction.  The old right to life vs. right to choose has been replaced by the new healthcare-for-all vs. Obamacare. No compromise. No leadership. No solutions. Just arguments and the futility of politics. That is the new American way. 

There is one glaring, major issue in this upcoming election to be settled. But, I fear it will not be addressed over the coming four years. Both candidates have very similar art of distraction game-plans. And I’m just not that impressed with either. Dual citizenship is a real option and I think it may just be time to take a look at such a solution for our second half of life.  Why now? Simply put, we are now facing 15,000,000,000,000 dollars in debt with 20,000,000,000,000 dollars in debt coming fast.  Once we get to $20t or $25t, how do we ever come back?  Well, maybe Governor Chris Christie knows, but, certainly, two presidential candidates do not.  The math re: revenue vs. expense projections makes me cringe.

Today’s America resembles nothing of the truly independent America of 200 + years ago. Thank God, in one way. Abolishing slavery was the greatest social triumph known to the American experience ever.  However, why are we so ambivalent to the debt crisis that enslaves this country today?  Healthcare will not ruin this country. Obamacare will not ruin this country. Abortion debates will not ruin this country. Taxes will not make or break this country. But, if we ignore increasing debt and never balance our budget again, it will rip apart any positive future of America, as we know it.  As the election of 2012 approaches, it looks like it may be too late. 

One of my many cliches has been “hope for the best …but, plan for the worst”. It’s just a good philosophy and it will serve this one family very well in the future.  Our founding fathers’ America is no more.  The America of my childhood is no more.  There’s no more Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, nor Ronald Reagan left in the bunch of so-called “leaders”.  Unless we’re on the public gravy-train of some form or fashion, we are left to our own devices to figure out this life, what’s best for our families, and just how to take on the future.  This 21st century is looking more like the new 18th century where we replaced England’s suppression with the suppression of entitlement and the debt it requires…and the upcoming election of 2012 will do nothing to change that. 

Recent tweet from @GovChristie : “We need leaders who are willing to take risks.” 10min worth watching @

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