- Lose the debt
Some of the most important things that you can do to be successful as a digital nomad have to do with money and finances. That being said, if you have a lot of debt, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the digital nomad lifestyle happen for yourself. It just means you have a journey ahead of you to make it happen. Getting rid of debt may mean that you have to make some difficult, life-changing decisions, like selling a house that you “love” or getting rid of a car that you’re very attached to. You’ll need to ask yourself honestly, “What do you really want?” Do you want that particular car or that particular house or do you want freedom and flexibility in your life? It’s up to you to decide. Downsizing to a vehicle you can afford (without going into debt to get it) or a house or apartment you can afford can make-or-break your efforts at remote work.
Getting rid of debt is a messy process so prepare yourself emotionally for the challenge. Chances are you’ll get ripped off and swindled a few times in the process, but stick to it. Getting rid of debt opens up the possibilities for new things to take shape in your life.
- Live within your means
As you get rid of your debt, you’ll simultaneously need to work at developing a lifestyle around living within your means. That means, that you’ll need to get a house, a car (if a car is necessary in the country where you’re living), and items for daily life that you can afford without going into debt to pay for them. When you’re first getting started as a digital nomad/freelancer, every monthly bill will create anxiety because freelancing and remote work is inherently whimsical. Rarely do freelancers get paid a salary. Usually, the work is up and down. So to be able to sync up with the rest of the world and still pay monthly bills, you have to be sure you can stockpile funds from one month to the next. Get your bills down as low as they can possibly go. Then, you’ll be ready to take on the next step.
- Prepare for income variations from month-to-month
This is the part that makes a lot of people queasy. When you work for yourself, either as a location independent entrepreneur or as a freelancer/digital nomad, your income will vary from month-to-month. Some months will be awesome and some will suck hard. Prepare for this by saving money and living within your means.
- Consider living in affordable places outside of the U.S., Canada, Europe, or Australia
In some cases, it may make more sense to take up residence in a country where you can live and work more cheaply. What if you could live off $600 a month or less? How would that change your stress levels in terms of freelancing and remote work? Believe it or not, there are a number of countries where a family of three or four could live comfortably off $1500/month. If you’re considering becoming a digital nomad or a digital nomad family, an affordable country with all the first-world amenities may be an option to consider.
- Learn how to learn without structured schooling
College costs a lot of money and the returns aren’t that great. Learn how to learn without college. If you’re working through technology as a nomad online, you’ll need to continue learning in order to stay abreast of new technologies and new ways of doing things in the freelancing world.
- Develop a digital nomad community for support
If you’re a solo digital nomad, it would be a good idea to cultivate a community of other digital nomads for support. Clients can be mean at times. And it’s easy to get disillusioned about your work as location independent entrepreneurs. You need people to reason with you on emotionally charged topics related to your work. Inevitably, there will be emotionally charged topics (like: why didn’t my customer pay me? Or: why did that client give me a bad rating?)
- Stay healthy, stay motivated
You have to be self-motivated in order to do freelance work. If your goal is to live a life of indulgence, then freelancing certainly isn’t for you. Stay healthy so you can maintain a life of freedom, otherwise, freedom goes away.
- Examine your deepest motives for wanting to work at home
Most successful freelancers don’t work in their pajamas. They don’t sleep all day or party all night. They’re very dedicated to their work and passionate about what they’re doing. If your motives for wanting to work at home have to do with the desire to be inert, you may want to hold on to your day job.
- Shun Facebook and other social media as well as television and the telephone during working hours
Facebook, social media, TV, and even the telephone are de-motivators during the work day. Make a commitment to avoid these seemingly innocuous social tools during your work day in order to stay focused and productive. You can reward yourself at the end of the day by logging in to your favorite form of mind slush.
- Move with the times
Once you start freelancing, you’ll need to move with the times and keep learning and growing in order to stay on top of the technology. The digital nomad lifestyle is constantly evolving and in order to evolve with it, you have to be willing to adapt.
John Talks About His Remote Work (video)