Hi everyone, my name is Todd Wassel and I have a confession, I’m not a personal finance blogger. I’m actually what most people would like to call irresponsible. In 1999 I packed up a few bags and left home, left the US and started my continuing journey around the world. My family thought it was a phase, they pleaded with me to come home, others wondered when I would get grow up and get a real job. Flash forward 12 years and I’m still on the road, I have grown up (depending on who you talk to), and I have a real job…kind of.
I guess I’m a lifestyle and travel blogger, but to be honest I’m not sure those labels fit me any better than the “it’s a phase” or “he’ll get a real job” labels fit me a decade ago. Although according to my website I’m in the business of Lifestyle Strategies, Travel and Adventures. But what does this mean on a practical level from a blogging perspective? After all, I achieved my current lifestyle without my blog. What does my blog add to my current lifestyle and where do I go from here? Let’s see how I got here in the first place and then maybe we can piece together where I’m headed next.Yes, you’re about to get my whole life in under 400 words…
When I left home I headed straight for Japan, where I thought I’d fill in my time thinking about what I’d be when I grow up with a little bit of adventure. I worked and lived in Japan for over 5 years before a growing discontent forced me to leave and pursue my real passion. The problem was that I had no idea what that passion was. Undaunted by the not knowing I applied and got into graduate school for International Relations.
Back to the Library
I spent one and half years back in the US, studying, trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up (sound familiar). It was actually one of the best times of my life. Over 200 like minded students from all over the world gathered in one place to debate politics, sound smart and then welcome the sunrise with beers and salsa…almost every single day. The joy, the passion for experiencing life was a common thread that run through us all. But all things come to an end and the powers that be (my bank account) forced me to graduate.
More years on the Road
Graduate school led me to San Francisco where I worked for a governance NGO focused on Asia. Two days before my contract expired my boss called me and asked if I wanted to extend. “Of Course”. The catch was that I had to be on a plane to East Timor in 2 days to run a peacebuilding project there. The country had just devolved into mass violence with the police and military killing each other and youth gangs roaming the capital. My response was simple, “where’s my ticket.” I dropped one bag and got on the plane, remembering at the last moment to call my parents and tell them I was moving to East Timor. They are very understanding parents.
After six months dodging bullets I met a girl and long story short we ended up in Sri Lanka during the civil war. She worked for the United Nations and I worked for a human rights organization helping the Internally Displaced Persons. Three years later, we got married, and had to leave Sri Lanka for visa reasons. This landed us in Kosovo. We both took jobs with the UN. She is in Japan (you can read about our first hand experience with the earthquake here), I will join her in a few months for the birth of our first child, and then we will jump to another crisis area, another post conflict zone, another country and another adventure.
Didn’t you say you had a Blog
I really enjoyed Jeff’s write up on Lifestyle Blogging because it goes to the heart of my own blog Todd’s Wanderings. What I have learned about my lifestyle and what I want to be when I grow up is simply that I want freedom. I want the freedom to pursue whatever it is that I’m passionate about at any particular moment. I want to continue working in the conflict resolution and peacebuilding sector, but I also need some financial stability as my family grows. This wandering life can be hard and there needs to be a way to even out the ups and downs of project work.
Just like Jeff, my blog and my lifestyle advice is simply to live the life that allows you be the happiest. For me this is the ability to live anywhere, take any job that interests me, and have the freedom to stop something when it no longer makes me happy (fill in evil yelling bosses, cubicals, corrupt government officials, writing banal top ten lists about places I have never been etc).
My Blog Blueprint for Never Growing Up
I have already achieved a lifestyle that I love, jobs that I adore, and an ability to get work anywhere in the world (where guns are firing that is). What more could this selfish man want? Now I’m focused on bring together my love of writing with my love of exploring. Todd’s Wanderings is where my life meets the world, it’s the unifying theory of who I am. I live my life and I write about it (this is what I want to tell people I do for work).
My blog is the cornerstone of my next stage of professional development and one of three pillars I am developing to provide even more location independence than I have now. The ultimate goal will be to have a life where my family and I can live anywhere in the world for 8 months of the year, and then spend the other 4 months with friends and family in Japan and the US. Oh, and a house with a large rough wooden table from which I can work and look at the ocean :) Mojitos and beer NOT optional.
My plan is based on 3 pillars. The First Pillar is to continue working in the development field and take advantage of traveling and living abroad on someone else’s dime to feed the next two pillars. The Second Pillar is my Blog where I will build up a dedicated readership and earn money from the blog through monetization, selling my own products and stories, and eventually publishing books. The Third Pillar is an army of smaller destination websites from the places I love that take advantage of the knowledge I gain from traveling but don’t require the contestant updating of a blog and personal branding. You can see the first part of this third pillar take shape over at Things to Do in Tokyo.
And here’s my last secret….I’m actually very financially responsible, I just don’t talk about it much. To live this type of life, pay off student debt, save for retirement, save for a house, and eventually college for the kids you better bet I have my ducks in order…but that might be another blog entirely :)
I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you much better and thanks for making the end…mom.