2011 Annual Review

Well as the year comes to an end today, it´s a good time to recap on the year. It´s always a great time to evaluate where you are at compared to last year, whether you are closer to your goals or further away or exactly the same place where you started the year. I am happy to say that I have done and am doing what I had wanted to do for several years.

Ever since I went to London and met travelers who are traveling long-term, I had wanted to do the same. To be honest, at first I didn´t think it was really possible. I was stuck in the mind-set of a normal life. I remember my last day in London being depressed since ¨After graduating this year, I will have to get a job in the US and won´t have enough vacation to travel until I retire.¨ How wrong I was, and how happy I am that I was wrong. After learning more through talking to travelers, reading blogs, and learning about how to become financial independent, I had a plan. Get out of debt, work hard to save money, and do what I want. Simple, and it worked.

I started my year in Cincinnati finishing up my 3rd rotation. I had accompliished my goal of moving to Prague for work, which I had been shooting for since the role opened a year and a half earlier. I lived and worked in Prague from the end of January until the middle of August, so about 7 months. Although work wasn´t what I hoped, the time spent in Prague and traveling more in Europe was better than I could´ve imagined. Since this was my last rotation, I had to make an important career decision, Audit Staff or not. Great for the career, horrible for your personal life. After debating and debating, I finally decided that it wasn´t for me. And finally, I went in a completely different direction by asking for 7 months off to volunteer in Peru and to travel in South America.

This was a major career risk for me, but asking for the time off had more benefits than negatives for me. I was extremely surprised and happy by the way the comapny reacted. They were extremely supportive of the opportunity, and after 2 signatures, I was all set.

I spent a nice 2 weeks in the US visiting family and friends and had a great time. As I always say, this is the main drawback of being out of the country. But going to the Iowa State fair, Mom cooking a very early Christmas dinner, biking in Wisconsin, and hanging out in Chicago were some of the highlights in a quick 2 weeks.

After this, I hopped on a plane to Lima, slept in the airport, and took the flight to Cusco. I stayed in Ollanta for 3 months, compared to my original plan of 5 months. That kind of sums up the story. Although I did live with a great family there, lived in a beautiful part of the Andes mountains, and got to study and improve my Spanish, the experience with the organization wasn´t what I wanted. However, I am very happy with the opportunty to live there.

Finally, at the beginning of December, I took off for the trip I had been dreaming of for a while: 4 months of pure travel. I have spent the whole month in Bolivia and have loved it so far.

To finish this off, my company has all but approved (need to do the paper) an extra 5 months off of work so that I can do a charity bike across the US with Habitat. This means that I will have had a total year away from the company and will be able to do something else I have been wanting to do for several years.

So that was my year in a nutshell. Needless to say, I am very happy with how the year went and hope the next year can top it. So take a minute today to look at your year and decide if it´s the way you hoped to go, and what you can do to change it.

About Trent

I started Frugal Purpose to share my love of personal finance to assist your pursuit of a more fulfilling life. I am a financial analyst by trade, traveler at heart, and want to share with you the beauty of this world.

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