Shlomo Freund has been a location independent entrepreneur for the past 15+ years. His current business, Free Financial Self, is helping location independent families organize their money so they can reach financial freedom faster.
He’s been building the lifestyle that he wanted for himself and over the years managed to find the right balance between staying in one place and travel. He goes with his family for workations where they travel and work for 1-3 months every time. He has a 4-year old daughter which he and his wife are currently homeschooling.
Over the years he realized how much he is passionate about 3 things. Personal finances, Investments, and Travel. Free Financial Self is the natural combination of all these. It gives him the opportunity to help others align their lifestyle goals and their finances making people happier.
Please enjoy this Financial Case Study about how Shlomo Freund and his wife and daughter live and work location independently.
How long have you been living/working on the road, and where have you traveled to?
We have been location independent since December 2014, when my wife’s company at the time let her work remotely as we moved back to Israel after spending 3 years in China. I had a company in China I built there, and managed it remotely.
In January 2017, we started our current workation lifestyle, when our daughter was 1 year old. So far we’ve been to Thailand for 2.5 months, staying most of the time in Chiang Mai and a bit in Kho Lanta Island. We picked a local neighborhood near Wat Suan Dok temple. We loved the atmosphere of the temple, the local restaurants, and the good access to the co-working spaces in Nimman area. Nimman was too touristy and foreign oriented for us. So, by staying local we could choose when we want to be part of the scene and when staying away. Not to mention that the costs in Nimman are significantly higher.
In October 2017 We traveled for 57 days to Portugal. It was combined with my wife’s company yearly retreat. We started with the retreat and then hiked for 10 days with our 2-year-old (at the time) on our backs in Portugal’s countryside. We took a specific trek called: “Rota Vicentina”.
We moved to more places in Portugal, however most of the time we spent in the wonderful vacation town of Cascais. We got an awesome deal (basically almost free) for 25 nights in a huge apartment (We could invite in another 6 people apart of the 3 of us). It even included a cleaner and a gardener coming a few times a week.
Our next adventure happened in Sri Lanka at the beginning of 2019 we traveled there for 3.5 months. We had about 10 days in Colombo area, then went south to Dikwella, where we rented a big room in a villa for almost a month. At that time we sent our 3-year old daughter to a local nursery, which was a very positive experience. The rest of the 2 months on the island, were kept moving every 5-10 days and explored the rest of the island.
In August 2019 we had our last adventure before Covid19 hit the world – 6 weeks in Italy. We started our trip in Naples and moved south, where our final destination was Palermo for my wife’s yearly company retreat. We ended up staying about half of the trip in Sicily. However, one of our most interesting adventures was in a self-sustained Airbnb where all food almost comes from either the garden or exchange for other things within the community). It was in a small village called San Valentino Torio.
We are not sure about our next adventure. A few options:
- Going back to Chiang Mai for 2nd round.
- South of Spain – In a little town called La Herradura, there is a vibrant homeschooling community, which we would like to get to know more. We have friends who lived there, and we would like to try it too. My wife and I are learning Spanish, and even our 4-year-old is interested. So, that’ will be good for our language skills as well.
- Central America – I’m interested in exploring a completely new place. I’ve never been and curious to discover.
- Fiji – We have an invitation from a friend coming to visit there. Two things that make it challenging. a. It’s very far; therefore, while we go there, it’s worth making it a long trip to Australia and New Zealand also. It’s an expensive trip which for now I’m not sure we can afford. So, a low chance of going for this option.
Please describe what you do for income.
We have diversified sources of income.
Salary – My wife’s work
My businesses – Free Financial Self & AppInChina.co
Investment – Real estate, Stock portfolio, Cryptocurrency and crowd-investing projects.
How many hours per week do you work on average?
Since I’m spending time with my daughter almost every morning, I work usually in the afternoon till evening. I’d say it’s around 5 hours a day. So – 25 – 30 hours a week.
How much money do you make?
In the past 12 months we earned an average of $7,144 USD per month and average expenses of $3,958 USD which brings us to a savings rate of 44.59% . When I’m calculating income, I add in everything we make: Wife’s salary, Income from Free Financial Self (work with clients and affiliate commission – about $30 USD/month), AppInChina, dividends from portfolio investments and interest paid from crowd-investing projects.
This also goes for investments. Everything is calculated in: Trading commission, business expenses, and personal expenses.
This process is very important for me to follow what works and what doesn’t in our life financially. I calculate these numbers monthly and publish them as a monthly update. (Yes, there is a gap now in 2020, as I’m moving to a new broker and it took time to consolidate all the numbers back. I also try to automate the process as it takes me a long time to collect the data.
Apart from calculating the savings rate for the month, I also calculate our net worth every month. For the past 2+ years that I’m publishing the monthly updates, the trend is positive, so I know we are on the right path.
Do you make enough money to support your lifestyle?
Yes, our current income supports our lifestyle and allows us to save and invest the excess income in the assets I mentioned before: Stocks portfolio, Crowd investing, Real estate and crypto currency.
What do you like most about your career and lifestyle?
I like that we managed to build a life with the perfect balance for us. In terms of travel, we feel that currently when our daughter is young, it’s important for her to see our extended family more. We didn’t want to skip traveling at all, so this is why we do these workations. Most of the times when we are about to fly back home, we are happy to be back and seeing everybody, but we also know that pretty quickly we are ready for another round. We try to balance it all.
I like that we also manage to balance our jobs with homeschooling. We split our days between me and my wife. Each of us for 4-6 hours every day with our daughter. So, we get to spend a lot of time with her, work and travel.
Specifically about my job. It took time to get to the right blend. I have a program that helps location independent families organize their money so they can reach financial freedom faster. I believe that by understanding how to align your lifestyle goals and finances, you get to be a more balanced person, satisfied with where you are in life, and a happier person. I like the fact that I managed to combine my passion for travel, investments & personal finance and make a living from it helping others being more content and happy in their lives.
What are some of the challenges you have with this career and lifestyle?
I think our biggest challenge is satisfying our love for exploring and travel with the importance of staying in one place next to the extended family. At first it was harder when we left each time. But now, the family knows that the next trip is in our mind and know it’s going to come and some point.
What is your vision for the future of your lifestyle on the road?
For now We love what we do and our lifestyle. So, I’d say we would like to keep it this way. However, we are aware things can change when our family will extend, and perhaps there will be other personal issues with the extended family, we will have to adjust.
Any advice for the aspiring traveler about living and working on the road and managing finances?
I think that people can achieve their desired lifestyle if they would just plan ahead for their goals. At it’s core it’s a pretty basic process. Make more, spend less so you can save as much as you can. Then take that excess and invest it for the long term.
If you want to take one thing from this interview, then I’d say: Think long term . It’s my best advice. I can ramble endlessly about the power of starting small and compounding interest as it can get people so far if they would just commit and think longterm about their finances.
I added as a resource a millionaire calculator to help people see exactly how long it will take them to reach a million USD. It shows the power of compounding interest and thinking long term.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, I created a personalized email course called “Zen Money” helping you plan and think long term of your life and financial goals. I’m active on Quora answering questions related to location independence and finances (This is how Nora and I got connected), so I’m happy to connect there or other social media channels.