26 August 2016 –
This week’s article is a little different than most. In fact it’s a story that I’ve taken from the New Zealand Herald newspaper about quite a remarkable family.
It’s possible that this story could provide inspiration for anyone who feels that they need to just work a few more years before retiring, or that they just don’t earn enough to retire early, or that early retirement isn’t possible without millions in the bank.
So on to the story of the Gee family, Garrett and Jessica Gee, and their two young children Dorothy and Manilla. At 25, Garrett sold a mobile app he had developed, to Snapchat for US$71m. Now that’s a lot of bucks that would suddenly propel you into a different league when it comes to spending ability.
So what did they do? Buy a new mansion to live in plus holiday homes in the mountains and the tropics? Splurge on the latest Ferrari for him, and Mercedes for her? Install gold-plated taps around the house and buy a Picasso or two for the hallway? Nope, they carefully invested the money, then sold everything and set off for a family adventure around the world looking for worthwhile projects to spend their time working on.
They’ve been to 25 countries — a lot more than many of us — and they have no plans to end their permanent holiday.
You have to admit it: it’s hard not to envy this picture-perfect family.
They’re young, beautiful and they recently got rich — really rich. They’ve been to 25 countries — a lot more than many of us — and they have no plans to end their permanent holiday.
Their Instagram account is littered with mouth-watering snaps from their adventures abroad, and if that isn’t enough, they’re on a mission to help as many people in need as they possibly can.
So, yes — on top of it all, they’re genuinely lovely people.
This is The Bucket List Family — Garrett and Jessica Gee, and their two young children Dorothy and Manilla.
The developer of a mobile scanning app, 25-year-old Garrett sold it to Snapchat last year for a whopping $71 million. But rather than relax and enjoy a lavish lifestyle, the family decided to sell everything they owned, including their Utah home, their cars, furniture and most of their belongings, so they could head off and see the world – and change it for the better.
They were most recently in Nepal, where they decided to set up a school for young women at risk of human traffickers, and have since made their way to the Czech Republic.
News.com.au spoke to Jessica about the family’s 12 months on the road, their latest charity venture, and what it’s really like to travel the world with two little kids in tow.
Can you tell us about your time in Nepal?
We’ve been working with effect.org learning about the problem of human trafficking and what can be done to help. We learned that more schools in poor villages would educate and protect these young women from traffickers.
We’ve decided to open a school! We are doing a fundraiser for anyone who would like to learn more about the fight against human trafficking and possibly donate.
At first we were quite nervous bringing our children to Nepal. Everything is so different. But it is different in a good way and we’ve really loved exploring such a unique culture.
Where has The Bucket List Family been so far, and what have been some of the highlights?
So far, we’ve travelled to 25 different countries together. Some highlights have included swimming with humpback whales in Tonga, watching leatherback turtles lay their eggs in Dominica, and hopping alongside a troop of kangaroos in Australia. We really love wildlife!
How did The Bucket List Family concept come about?
When my husband [Garrett] was a student in college he created an iPhone app and later sold it to Snapchat. After he sold it, we had the financial freedom to do a lot of different things.
We considered buying a house or maybe a new car but it didn’t feel right to splurge. We were raised to be frugal and we didn’t want money to change us. So we decided to do something very different.
Instead of buying a house to settle down, we decided to take off for a family adventure around the world. But we didn’t want to spend our new savings. So we put all the money into safe investments and agreed not to touch it. To fund our travels around the world, we sold all of our belongings. We sold our apartment, two cars, furniture, clothes, and everything else.
How do you continue to fund your travels?
When we sold everything we left with about US$50,000 (NZ$68,418). We agreed that we would travel until that finished and then stop as to not touch our savings.
My husband is very entrepreneurial so he took it upon himself as a goal to find ways to save money and make money along the way so we could extend our travels. He experimented with many projects including building a brand around our family and creating an Instagram account and YouTube channel where we post weekly video updates every Sunday.
As our audience began to grow, we’ve been able to work with sponsors and brands that pay us to feature their products, services, or resorts. We’ve worked with brands like The Ritz-Carlton, Sheridyn Swim, and some Australian-based children clothing brands.
We had spent about US$35,000 ($48,000) of the initial US$50,000 ($68,418) when we began making enough money to break even. Initially, we budgeted our travels to last six months, but now we’ve been away for 10 months and still making it stretch!
You guys do a lot to help people in need. Why is it important to give back?
We are very grateful for the blessings in our lives and we believe the best way to express our gratitude is to pay it forward and bless the lives of others.
Sometimes we do anonymous acts of service and sometimes we involve our followers on Instagram and Facebook for larger projects.
Last Christmas we surprised seven people in need with free Lasik eye surgery. Last month we surprised a special family with a free trip to the Bahamas.
Now, this month we are focused on building the school to help young women at risk of human trafficking in Nepal.
What’s it like travelling with the little ones?
We were very cautious and nervous as we left for this journey around the world with two very young children. But it has actually been so amazing! Our son, Manilla, was just one when we left and it has been so much fun watching him learn different animal names and noises while actually interacting with the animals in the wild all around the world. Our daughter, Dorothy, learned to swim in the Caribbean and now she believes she is a real life mermaid!
Most of all, we’re just very grateful for the unique amount of quality time we’re able to spend together.
Do you have any practical advice for other families travelling with kids?
We thought it would be difficult to live out of suitcases and pack so light. But, living minimalistic has been very liberating and has removed a lot of stress from life that we didn’t even realise was possible.
Also, along the way we’ve learned little tips and tricks that help with travelling with kids. When we have long flights we will packs snacks that take a long time to eat and keep our children occupied for longer. Stuff like string cheese, lollipops, or raisins that take a long time to pull out of the box.
Also, it’s kind of weird but it helps when we tell bedtime stories about our upcoming adventures.
The night before a long flight we will tell our kids a bedtime story about a “magical land called Thailand where we will see elephants, eat yummy noodles, and see beautiful floating lanterns!” This helps them get excited and think more about the destination ahead and less about the long stressful flight.
How has this experience brought you together as a family, and what have you learned about yourselves, and the world, so far?
Probably the most important lesson we have learned so far is how good and loving the world is. Everywhere.
People can often focus on the negative and heartbreaking stories in the media so it sometimes feels like the world is a dark place full of evil and tragedy. But during our journey around the world we’ve seen that although evil exists, there is so much more light, peace, love, and goodness in the world.
No matter the country or culture, we find people and families full of kindness and beauty. It has given us so much hope and comfort for our children and the future they will grow up in. Source: NZ Herald 27/08/16
Now having $71m sitting in reserve back home would certainly put your mind at rest that, when you eventually return home, you’re not going to need to get back to the same job you left behind, or worry about having to start again.
But the reason I like this story is that these guys became financially independent, albeit with a little more than most of us, and rather than continue to do the same-old, same-old, or splash the cash around in wasteful ways, took the opportunity to not only travel relatively frugally, but do some good along the way as well.
So what’s the point of this story? Well, to me just it’s another example of how financial independence gives you opportunities that you’re not going to have when you’re tied to a job. Whether it’s giving you the freedom to roam, or to just do the things you’ve always wanted to given the time, or to give away your time helping others. Financial independence is going to help hand this to you on a silver platter. And guess what? You don’t need $71m behind you to achieve this either.
What plans do you have when you reach financial freedom? Carry on working? Take early retirement? Travel the world, or do something you’ve always wanted to?
Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of us. And hopefully, you might give inspiration to those still considering hopping on the FIRE bandwagon.
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