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  • Writer's pictureCrystal


MAY 14, 2023

I will answer one of the top questions I receive: How do I pay for everything? Am I a trust fund child? Am I a millionaire? Do I have a secret rich husband paying for all of my travels?

The answer to ALL of those questions is resounding: No.

Short answer:

I pay for everything myself and am living off savings.

Long answer:


I don't have ties. I never owned a house, had kids, don't collect things and never bought new vehicles so lived without the expenses tied with those life decisions.

One of the things that changed my life is when I discovered Minimalism. The reason I am able to live on savings is because I adopted minimalism in my early 20s. This was a game changer. In 2012, I saw a newspaper article talking about The Minimalists. They were 2 friends who worked 80 hour weeks, made 6 figures and weren't happy. They had everything, but it still wasn't enough. They talked about once they decluttered their lives from the excess, they became much happier. I was so inspired, I clipped their article out of the newspaper. They were doing a book tour and I attended one of these talks with my friend Lucie in a small space in San Francisco with about 20 people before they blew up and got popular. I bought one of their books and was hooked. I started to question my purchases and challenged myself not to buy anything for a month unless it was food or a necessity to survive (gas to get to work or medicine). I can tell you this was very hard for me at first. I needed to unravel the mindset I adopted from growing up in an American consumerism culture and resist impulse urges to buy things. We are surrounded by advertisements everyday on buses, cell phone ads, on the internet, in magazines, the branding on our clothes, that it takes very conscious effort to unravel all of this.

But I did it, and thus I began a different way of living. I was happier, my closet was less cluttered and I saved so much time not going shopping, browsing the internet for more stuff or needing to have the mental space to decide how one brand new piece of clothing would "make me feel better" about myself. Hint: Confidence comes from within. These changes in habit helped me save a lot. So I pose the question to you, how much do you spend on non-necessities? How much would that save you if you put that money toward a big trip savings fund?


I worked 10 years professionally in the architecture field and that pays better once you're out of the grunt work stage as a junior level employee. I knew I didn't want to work for 45 years straight after I got out of college, so I was always saving for something: a house, wedding, big trip? Who knows. I prepped and brought lunch from home as much as I could save versus eating out everyday. Being brought up in an Asian household, we are taught to save our money. This is a benefit, but on the other side, unfortunately, most of the time, the elders in my culture never splurge on things for themselves. They work so hard and just give the money to their kids or grandkids. I had to undo this instilment and tell myself it's okay for me to spend money on myself. I could write a whole other blog on this, so I'll just stop here.


I'm from the Bay Area in California, so our wages along with everything else is higher. There is a common misconception that everyone in the United States is rich. Let me clarify that myth. I live in California, one of the top 5 most expensive states to live in the US.

To give you a taste of how much it costs to live in my suburban city, a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,100 sq ft/ 102 square meters is about $800,000 USD or 731,280 Euros. An entrée at a decent and not fancy restaurant is $25 with tip and drink/ 23 Euro. The average cost for a new car in California is about $48,000/ 43,876 Euros. I hope that clears some things up. One of the reasons that much of the world thinks US citizens are rich is because our dollars go a lot further in non-first world countries, so from our perspective, if we pay $8 for an entrée, it is considered cheap to us because we haven't seen those prices since circa 2000s. So we might spend more when we're abroad because we usually wouldn't be able to indulge in those experiences in the US.

This blog was a lot longer than I intended, but I hope that answers everyone's inquiries. Summary: Live how you want, but in order to make this big moto expedition come to life for myself, I worked hard, saved and lived like a minimalist.

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