Independently Wealthy, Right?

You’re rich, right? You travel around the world at your leisure and don’t worry about a thing.Skydive Fiji You don’t have a day job, do you? You’re playing and living and indulging your “bucket list” in luxury. Are you really in need of anything? These are the comments I receive on a regular basis and I’d like to take just one post and one post only to discuss it and then dismiss it because I don’t feel like I need to give it any more of my time.

So… here it is. Here’s my background.

I have a beautiful life filled with travel, adventure, love, and family but it’s because I made it that way. Most people assume I was born with money, but that’s not true. I’m not rich, with money, and I work darn hard to make my life what it is.

Dalhousie University DormI went to university for 7 years and worked two jobs while I was there. I was a full time student with student loans and I worked at Statistics Canada and a call center to get by. I ate Mac & Cheese (Kraft Dinner in Canada) almost daily and I walked two miles to school and three miles to work every day, even in the severe winters of Halifax, Nova Scotia. I volunteered at an elementary school and the hospital during any other free second that I had. Life was busy but full. I managed to travel to a few countries during this time. By volunteering at camps and working in schools, I was able to see the world. There were times that I tented, slept in cars, and found the cheapest hostel possible, but I make it work. I found ways to travel and experience the world because there was too much out there not to.

Run for the Cure Pink Hair

I taught high school for another 8 years and worked another job on the side to pay for myNorway House experiences. I coached basketball, volleyball, and soccer so I could develop a deeper connection with the students and explore the provinces where I was working. I was the editor of the school newspaper and tutored students on the side. I worked in a remote community in Northern Canada to pay my student loans and I lived in isolation. I may complain about the cold in North Carolina, but it’s nothing compared to the -60°C that happened from October to March in Norway House, Manitoba. International travel was restricted to the summers because I had over $60,000 student loan to pay. I did take the summers, though, to volunteer, teach, and work in others countries.

I don’t think anyone in my blogging community knows that this is my second marriage. I married young and while my ex-husband is a wonderful person who deserves all the happiness in the world, we were not right for each other. After spending a decade together, we finally separated and it was at that moment that I decided living a “regular” life was not for me. Being ok with the ordinary was no longer acceptable. It was then that I realized that the more unrealistic I am with my dreams and goals, the more I’m able to achieve.

Costa Rica PoolWhen I met Darren, my husband, I saw life with new eyes. We decided what was important in our lives and found ways to make it happen. We don’t spend money on the typical things that eat up a large part of an income. We rarely buy new clothes and when we do, it’s usually secondhand. An evening of entertainment is a movie at home, homemade popcorn, and if we really splurge – McDonalds. I don’t wear make-up and I even cut my own hair. We could easily go an entire week without spending a cent. We do this because those things are not important to us; what is important is travel and adventure so we put our money toward the things that make our life full.

We consciously chose where we wanted to live in the world and moved. It was as simple as that. Darren applied for a job, we sold everything we owned, and drove to California. Now that we have Athena, North Carolina is more of a family environment so we moved again.

Turtle Rock California

Since we met later in life, my student loans were paid off and we were able to use my income for travel and Darren’s income to pay our bills. We spent the last few years living in a modest apartment and driving our modest cars. Rather than splurging on a huge apartment with all the luxuries, we lived well within our means and used the money for exploring, creating new experiences and life.

Then, I started blogging. It was the accumulation of all of my dreams come true. I write and write and write; I’m addicted. I’ve made it my career. If I’m not writing, I’m connecting with others in the blogging community and finding new and unique ways to utilize social networking. This is my job. It may not seem like work, but should anything that you plan on doing for the rest of your life?

Now, my blog is seeing enough success that I’ve been able to have some of theseheliskiing unbelievable experiences in exchange for media coverage. I’ve used that to help others make their dreams a reality during my year and a half of blogging. People send me there bucket lists regularly and I do everything in my power to make them a reality. You can see examples here: I organized and found a way to offer these experiences for free for my readers. One reader drove a NASCAR and hung out in the pit with the crew, another reader went skydiving, and another went heliskiing. (These are just a few examples.)

I hope all of your dreams come true and you stop at nothing to make them happen.

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

421 thoughts on “Independently Wealthy, Right?

      • Good luck with the wish list. I’ve been to 41 countries but some only for a few hours which doesn’t count. Most were on one, two or three-week holidays, but to do travel on the scale you do is fascinating.
        I particularly like your comment about some weeks not spending a cent because you know where you really want to spend money….on travel.
        Good luck in the miles ahead and may all your customs officers be kind.


      • Lesley… I’ve just read your blog and I almost have tear in my eye… a tear of pride for you. Put your unquestionable talents to a book, like I did. The English grammar in your blog tells me you can write girl! Write a book and I’ll be the first one to buy it. I wrote Escape Route about life’s sojourns and I pulled no punches. I’ve written my second, which is fiction. Writing is a world to lock yourself into until, by imagination, heaven appears in front of you by expressing what’s in your mind. Go for it Lesley. J.


  1. Your working towards your travel adventures is really admirable. I’m happy to hear how hard you’ve been working to pay for these trips. Frugality is a lost art. Some people think it’s just stinginess, but you show how working and saving allows lots of fun and adventure.


  2. I’m sorry you had to write this. One of the reasons I follow your blog is because it inspires one to get the most out of life. You don’t need to be “rich” to live a rich life, and I find it sad that people can become so obsessed with what they -don’t- have and -can’t- do that they miss out on plenty that is within their grasp. Keep enjoying life!


  3. I’m sorry to hear that people make assumptions about how easy things are for you. But I’m glad it resulted in you sharing your story. It’s great learning about how you’ve created the life you have. Congratulations and best wishes!


    • Thanks for your support! I think I might reach 1000 votes tonight! I feel blessed to have developed such a community in the blogging world.

      I wish you a lifetime of happiness and success,



  4. I am with you. Go, go, go, girl! I agree with you that life is short and that we have to spend it on things that matter to us. Not only did I vote for you, you are also in my prayers. Good luck and I wish you all the best. 🙂


  5. Beautifully put! You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but kudos to you for helping people understand that no matter what someone’s circumstances are, their dreams ARE within reach – it just takes a lot of hard work, incredible commitment, and a huge amount of heart. YOU ROCK.


  6. Thanks for the background. I’m glad you’re not letting the critics ruin your day. Making judgments is what makes us human – it’s too bad we do such a bad job of it sometimes! Your blog is great, and I hope you win the contest.


  7. Very Nice life story which is the outcome of truth , even though you don’t have to prove yourself what other people think about you , its great to know how you take life from your stand. i hope it will be a greater lesson for those who asked and thro’ them for those who read this article . LIfe is how we live it , we are not here to make money and die, what is the sue of earning more and more money , when will you have fun ? when will you live your life? what you did was 200% correct . my kind request is ” Do what your heart says , don’t give your ears to others who will always criticize “


  8. I do not even know why you had to write this post. I have believe in you from the beginning and I do not even know you. You looked like a gal that just wanted to travel and do something different with your life. You made it happen. It is interesting to hear of all your accomplishments,but I am glad I voted for you —just because you are you… : )


  9. That any would question your income is beyond me. Travel opportunity comes when travel opportunity comes. It is nice that you shared. Thanks.


  10. Hard work and perseverance. You have to believe utterly in what you are doing. I have wondered how you have managed what you do, but the thought that you *must* be rich as the only explanation has never crossed my mind. I am sorry that people who do not realize how far hard work and determination can get you have caused frustration, although I appreciate deeply that you have taken the time to answer. Thank you. You have been a true inspiration! My major bucket list bullet point is going to school for aerial acrobatics! Woot!


  11. I’m really glad you wrote this post; I was wondering how you did it and thought maybe you had a relative in the travel industry. I’ve always traveled “on the cheap” so I know it can be done, I was just curious on how you approached your venues and how the quid pro quo worked tax-wise.


  12. When I realized what are the things that matter most to me last year, I overhauled my life…I downsized materialistically but upsized in all other areas of my life!

    Great job with what you’ve done and what you’re doing now! I’ll vote for ya! =D


  13. Very well said, though it’s kind of a shame that it had to be. That whole assumption about “You travel; therefore, you’re rich,” is annoying to encounter. My wife and I are lower middle-class (IMHO), but we budget pretty well, keep our credit card balances near zero, and save up months in advance for our annual road trips. It’s not magic and we’re not trust-fund babies. We just work together to make them happen.

    We have a few relatives with whom we stopped discussing our trips because their only responses would be to seethe with envy and mutter, “I wish I could do that.” Frankly, they could do that if they put some thought into it, but their spending decisions tell me they’d rather do otherwise. Alas.

    Regardless…congrats at your success with all this! Today’s world needs more adventurers like you.


    • I agree! You know what they say, “haters gonna hate”. Sad that people couldn’t be happy and see it’s inspirational and aspirational. We don’t have a lot, tho it seems that we do, but we are actually very thrifty. I have a 1983 car, really! and hubs is 1997. We save as much as we can. Nice to see you over here!


  14. It’s really interesting how people can make up their mind from surface knowledge, not really knowing everything that leads up to what they see on the surface. Great post, I enjoyed reading it! I also tried voting, so hopefully I did it right.


  15. Lesley, as someone who’s had the privilage to know you, I’m happy to read this and hear you share your personal story, following your dream and seeing you succeed and shine in happiness is such a pleasure to watch, and you are humble as they come with a big heart. I know you will continue to inspire others to fulfill not just their “bucket lists” but their lives with that which makes them feel alive and the root of true happiness.
    xo Layla


  16. Wow! I can imagine the comments that led to this post. You are strong and a GREAT writer. What an interesting life you have. I am glad to be following you and your adventure. I found this very inspiring to read. Thank you for infusing your drive to my own dreams!


  17. It is terrible how some people react towards the life of someone else. They only read your blog and think, they know everything about you by reading your blog. The blog and the blogger often are something completely different.
    A lot of people only see what others have, forget what they have, how good they live and envy every little bit of the life of someone else. Jealousy like this is nothing but an evidence of a lack of self-refelction, good manners and ignorance.

    These people are trolls and nothing else.

    You are great!
    Go on with your work!


  18. Everything in life is a matter of priorities. It’s a simple concept that eludes those who want excuses as to why “they can’t”. You’ve adjusted yours perfectly for travel and adventure. An inspiration!


  19. It’s about priorities of spending, after you get the basics paid for what you do with your money is travel.  I get it – we keep the same car and don’t splurge on a bunch of extras for the house because we don’t want to be at the house – we want to travel.



  20. I really enjoyed this post. I respect anyone who sees that happiness doesn’t come from spending a lot of money.

    I can’t believe how much you’ve done and experienced in your life. Reading your blog has genuinely made me consider what I want out of life, so thanks! I’ll be glad to vote for you!


  21. HELL YES! you work your butt off and it shows in the work you produce online and every damn little like you take the time to do. I see them and I’m always impressed.
    And frankly, even if you had a mattress stuffed with money, it shouldn’t take away from the value of what you give to others. People yearn to see hardship as it gives them hope. You are strong and talented bottom line (and this I’ve garnished from your work as obviously I don’t know you in person).
    I imagine you will stay at it- appreciating the achievement yet always striving for more. Just keep the balance with love and family. That is your wealth.
    Cheers! wendy


  22. I’m sorry you felt like you had to write this post, but I’m really glad you did. I was never under any impression you and your family were living like royalty (wouldn’t that be nice, though?!), I never really wondered about how you managed to travel as much as you do. However for other people who might stumble across your blog, they might not understand that you don’t come from wealth and that you work hard so that you are able to travel so much. I think this post made you and your blog a lot more relatable to current and future readers and not just “another rich white lady traveling around the world!” (I’ve used this expression ever since I read Eat, Pray, Love. Not sure if you read it and liked the book, but I hated the book and I couldn’t stand the author!).

    It may seem like you are trying to justify who you are and what you do, but this post made me see you and your blog in a whole different light. I’m sorry if you felt writing this post was unnecessary, but sometimes when people have the full picture they understand better. 🙂


  23. You’re amazing, Lesley. You’ve got my vote. Sometimes, people say spiteful things because of envy and fear; it’s good you just shrug them off and don’t let them deter you. Make this world a better place; be a positive force. Work hard, and enjoy the rewards! Congratulations on you oncoming win, Lesley! 😉


  24. Good luck and keep up the good work. I am sorry that people are judging and you had to write this post – we all make our own decisions. We, like you and your husband, live within our means and my wife and I travel all over as well. We are constantly judged by friends who think that we must be making more than them or are living off some secret trust fund money. Meanwhile they drink lattes, eat lunch and dinner out multiple times per week and don’t realize that the $20 – $30/day (each) adds up to a whole lot of vacations over the course of a year.


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