Ever think that you aren’t sure where you’re headed with your money? Today we talk to TWO guests who began experimenting and found themselves much more prepared for the future than they’d thought. First, Annie decided it was time to experiment with “van life” during the pandemic. Her goal? To see if living and working from anywhere was actually viable. She’ll share her stories, including what worked, what didn’t and what she thinks about trying again long term. Plus, Tonia shares her story of how she realized she could actually quit her job! That was a welcome shock and now she shares what it’s going to take for her to jump off the employment treadmill and into a new life. Think that’s awesome? We’re also joined by special guest co-host Becky Heptig, who along with her husband Stephen retired at 60 after only beginning the journey toward financial independence ten years earlier! She’s the co-host of the hot new podcast “Catching Up To Fi,” and she helps steer this ship today!
Welcome to a very special edition of Stacking Benjamins! On today’s show, LIVE from Bali, Indonesia, Joe shares interviews and stories with a live audience at Amy Minkley’s FI Freedom Retreat, where he was a keynote speaker. Not only does Becky Heptig from the Catching up to FI Podcast co-host, but she also shares her and her husband’s success story about how they achieved financial independence in a relatively short time, starting from zero at the age of 50.
Joe’s interview with attendee Annie is an eye-opening look at just how different financial independence can look for different people, with Annie’s path fully embracing the location independence through #VanLife. Could camping, vagabonding, and generally roughing it be right for your financial independence? Annie shares the pros and cons of adopting this lifestyle.
Joe also sat down to talk with Tonia, who’s story about how she unknowingly stumbled her way to financial independence hopefully will help you realize that maybe you’re closer than you think to success! Learn from Tonia how to make the right moves to secure your financial independence by starting early.
Stick around when Doug calls in some Bali-related trivia.
Deeper dives with curated links, topics, and discussions are in our newsletter, The 201, available at https://www.stackingbenjamins.com/201
- How many days are in the traditional Balinese calendar?
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- Check out our “impromptu” guest Christina Gawlik’s blog, A Suitcase and a Smile.
- Did you stick around for the Back Porch segment? Visit today’s back porch storyteller Marli William’s site at MarliWilliams.com.
Join Us Wednesday!
Tune in on Wednesday when we’re going to help you see the world for less money (and to better splurge so that you create awesome memories) with the man behind the We Travel There podcast, Lee Huffman.
Written by: Kevin Bailey
Miss our last show? Listen here: The Money Tipping Point: When Do Saving, Spending and Earning Habits Go Too Far? (SB 1421).
Welcome to the editing bay. It is now a week since I returned from Bali and OG, my, um, Pain in the ass partner? No. Mental stability. Well, that’s exactly, I’m trying to think of the word. It’s jet lag. Holy cow. My jet lag is just beginning to go away. The good news is I slept from 9 30 to 11 and then again from 11 45 to three and then, uh, from 5 AM to 7 30 this morning.
So it was, it was great. It was fantastic. So I can’t even remember what that, what are we doing? Oh gee. Oh, we’re going to play a live from Bali episode today. Oh, well, hey, lucky us. Yes. We can take more of this. That’s right. Fantastic. Did I tell you I went to Bali? Congratulations, America. Guess where Joe went?
Everybody race. Welcome to the family trip slideshow. Raise your glasses because we got to salute our troops as we do every Monday. before we send us out to the retreat center where Amy Minkley had her five freedom retreat. So here’s to our troops. On behalf of the men and women making podcast, well, in this case from, uh, Indonesia and on behalf of the men and women in Navy federal credit union, here’s to our troops.
Let’s go, uh, stack some Benjamins together, shall we? Cheers.
Live from… Wait, what? He’s, he’s where? Really? Okay, never thought I’d be saying this one. Live from Bali, Indonesia, it’s The Stacking Benjamins Show.
Joe’s mom’s neighbor, Doug, and, well, we thought Joe’d just run out to the store for another six pack of tang, but turns out… He’s gone halfway across the world to speak at Amy Minkley’s 5 Freedom Retreat. We’ll feature stories of stackers doing amazing things like Annie, who’s experimented with van life, and Tanya, who figured out she was ready to retire by accident.
And that’s not all. Joe’s got a special guest co host from the Catching Up to Fi podcast, Becky Heptig. And that’s still not all, because I’ll be sure to share some of my amazing Bali rific trivia. Yeah, that’s a word now. And now, a woman whose path to Fi was amazing, and a man who’s already saying, Hey, remember that time we went to Bali?
It’s Becky Heptig and Joe, Joe Saul Sehy! Hello, Bali!
Becky, have you ever said that before? Hello,
Bali? I have not, but can I, can I do it? Yes! Can I practice it? Yes! Alright, hello,
Bali! Alright, now I can say I’ve said it. It’s so wild that we’re here. Welcome, everybody, to the Stacking Benjamins show. I am Joe Saul Sehy. I ever show money on, what is it, Twitter? X?
I’m not sure what we call it now. And you are Becky Heptak, the Becky Heptak from the Catching Up to Five podcast. Yes, absolutely. So glad you’re here with us. So for people that don’t know Catching Up to Five, the three people that don’t know Catching Up to Five, tell us what you and Bill do.
Well, my co host Bill and I are talking to our audience about starting late to financial independence.
These are folks that. Wake up in their 40s and 50s, say, Oh my gosh, I haven’t been paying attention to my money, Retirement is right down the road, and what do I do
now? Wait, this was you! This was
you! It was, it was. Um, my husband and I woke up… Realized that we had been not paying attention to anything having to do with money we got into some debt then we kind of woke up started making adult decisions and Turned things around we started with net worth zero at 50 years old and retired at 63
How great is that 50 to 63 and they made it?
It is doable and we have an audience that we believe is underserved. There’s a lot of folks out there in that position, but when you wake up in that position, you feel alone, and you feel like I’m the only one on the planet that has screwed things
up this bad. And there’s a lot of people who are in that boat.
That’s right. Yes, but I heard the secret to your success was you told Steven to start getting busy, damn it, right? Get off his butt and start… That’s right. Is that true? Uh,
well yes, he had his, well, yes, yes, hmm, maybe, um, we’ll talk about that later. Um, so, he had his own business and, uh, there were some issues, not his fault, that kind of sent that into the ditch and so one of the things that helped us immensely was he, uh, was able to get a really good W 2 job, gave us some stability and a place to start and at that point.
We started learning and getting educated about what to do with that income. Because before that we would probably have just
blown that too. Biggest thing I started doing was hiding money from myself. Like seriously, just using automatic deposits to go to the right places. Is that your first move?
Honestly, our first move was to just get a handle on what we were spending. And this was many, many years ago. We started with Dave Ramsey, and he Dave who?
No, I’m kidding. Big D.
R. Um, so, we did start with Dave Ramsey, that got us turned around, and the biggest thing it did for us was, as he does for millions of people, it helped us get out of debt, and it helped us change our mindset about money, and we realized that, you know, we could do this correctly, and it was possible.
So, the first thing I did, literally, was get white envelopes, Put food, clothing, groceries, I did. I put the white envelopes with cash in them in my purse. This was before apps and smartphones. Right. This was in the
Stone Age. She’s like on her way with no shoes, walking uphill a mile. Both ways. Yeah, yeah, to work.
Uh, Becky, we got some great guests today. We do, and I’m so excited about it. We’re going to tell some fantastic stories. By the way, we will link to Not only catching up to Fi, but also you and I at a campfight, uh, you and Steven both told your story on Stacking Benjamins a couple years ago. We’ll link to that episode for people that want to hear that inspiring story.
Awesome, thank you. At StackingBenjamins. com Let’s get on it. How about we get started? Sure, let’s go. Yes, our first guest is somebody who thinks living in a van down by the river might be a great idea. Let’s hear it for Annie!
It was, it was funny while Annie’s sitting down, Becky, I said that to Annie, I’m like, when she said that she’d been experimenting with van life, I thought she was going to say a van down by the river. And Annie, you said that when you’re in a van, being down by the river is like the best place. It’s
the best spot.
All the best get to be
there. So Saturday Night Live nailed it. They sure did. Yes. Tell us about why you decided to start van life. I mean, there’s a bunch of people who do this, who do it a lot more certainly than you have, but you’ve been dabbling in this. Tell us how that got started. Sure.
Yeah. Actually it was during the pandemic when all the borders were closed and typically I would travel internationally, but I didn’t have that opportunity anymore.
And I thought, well, we have quite a lot at our disposal here in the U S and what might be the best way to see it. So, with very little planning, I just decided I could see as much as I wanted in a van.
If I can’t be international, I’ll be in a van. Like, that seems, that seems to be two ends of the, of the spectrum.
Yeah, it is a little bit, but I think the flexibility and the fluidity of going where you want, when you want, when you’re in a van, is really what appealed to me. Now, you
said you didn’t really plan at all?
Not too much. I just had to figure out a rental, van rental company. I don’t have a van of my own. I don’t even have a car of my own.
Uh, so I just had to figure out which company would give me the best deal, of course. And then I decided where I wanted to go and where I would pick up the vehicle and… Then I could decide what I wanted to see.
That’s amazing. So, when you bought your van, or not bought your van, rented the van, how did that process
First I checked in with some friends who I know had done it. So I wanted to know where I could get the best deal. Cause there’s quite a few out there. Um, but I just researched and decided that the van, the particular company that I used, where they had locations, and they have a Free one way, so I thought, hey, I can see the most of the United States in a certain period of time if I don’t have to do a giant loop, but rather can do kind of a one way destination.
And so I just secured the reservation online after I figured out how much time I wanted to spend on the road, and I did want to dabble with trying remote work from remote locations. And so, just decided how much time that would be, and I, and I booked it. So, did this van have like 16 seats in it, or was it already equipped?
To, to camp in. Did it
have an 8 track player?
No, but very good point. There, they were older vans. In fact, my first van broke down that I rented, which was nice. But they did have one of the, you know, like a CD, like an old school aux cable. Not even the USB kind. So you were able to use that, which was great.
Yeah, so they were converted, but it was not a van you could stand up in, it was like a, I think a 350 or a 150, so one of those two. I had both on that trip, because one broke down, but it basically had a kitchen that would pull out from the back of the car, so you had to be outdoors to use the kitchen.
Okay. So if it rains, you’re screwed.
Oh, if it rains, you’re not leaving that van. I wasn’t anyway. Except for when it leaked and then sometimes you had to make…
This sounds better and better, Annie. How do I get some of this? It breaks down and it leaks? I’m in. About how much was it, if you don’t mind me asking, to rent the
Great question. So I did it for a month. And it was about, I want to say about 3, 000, but that can fluctuate at the time because it was the pandemic, uh, they were running a lot of sales, and so they actually, it was half off to do it for the full month for about 3,
- So instead of a van this big, you got a van this big, half off?
No, I’m sorry. Just two wheels. I always forget it’s a radio show, people have no idea that I just halved my, anyway, sorry.
Yeah, no, but that was it, so I just, I, because it was half off, why not go? And so I did a month. And the vehicle itself was a little interesting. Like I said, I had a leak, but I’ve done it multiple times now and I’ll either do a van where I have to cook outside or I’ll live out of an SUV, which I highly recommend.
So this was during the pandemic. So were you able to go to the places you wanted to go to, even though most of the country was shut down? I was, right. So by vehicle you can pretty much go where you’d like to go. So, uh, I went to, did a lot of national parks, but I was primarily in California, Utah, a little bit of Nevada.
So I got to do a lot of the, the parks actually were amazing at that time because there was very few tourists. The part about van life that I think is particularly, uh, exciting when you’re on the west coast is that you can do a lot of boondocking, which is just. Camping in the middle of nowhere, so you don’t really need amenities, and as a result, you can do that at pretty much any time.
So you were camping in places that didn’t necessarily have, like, RV hookups, or, I mean, did you have electricity and water? That sounds so fancy. No, usually no.
Okay, yeah, where’d you put the satellite TV? No, I’m I’m kidding The I wonder about your house during that time. Did you get rid of wherever you were living and just live?
I mean, did you have rent and you were renting the van or were you just renting the van? That was your only Uh, housing
costs. So, yeah, I own a home of my own, and I did not rent it out, but I house hacked, so I still had a roommate
at the time. Okay, so you had some money coming in from the house. Yes. Yeah, as well.
Did it cover the mortgage? Uh, it covered half. Okay, alright. Uh, the goal then was… To do what? Because you have this expense of a house at home, and you have the van expense, the what, 1, 500 then, right, if it’s half off? So you’ve got that expense additionally. Like, what was the goal when you decided to test out living in a van down by the river?
Uh, so first of all, the van half off was 3, 000, so it would have been probably about 6, 000. They can be pretty expensive if they’re converted. That’s why I would plug the SUV I got for 800 for a month once. But I would say, uh, could you repeat the, what you’re, what you’re looking for? Yeah,
so you have two expenses, so instead of decreasing expenses, right?
You increased expenses. Sure did. So you moved into a van and your cost actually went up. Most people, I would imagine, that when they get the van, their cost goes down. Were you test driving that for a strategy for maybe later on in life? Or for something else? Or was it just, let’s go see? Oh,
So part of the reason I wanted to do it was to see how well I could remote work. So this was kind of a test period and I knew I was going to have to pay for that. But it is financially, it was a financially good decision because I got to see so much for that 3, 000. So if I had done it a traditional route and spent two days and had a rental car and had to pay for lodging.
I probably spent, I would say, about a fourth of what I would have spent if I did it the traditional route and had to have a place to stay
every night. That’s fabulous. When it came to your budget for other things, did you notice any other costs that went up or everything else go through the floor?
Well, the gasoline.
So that’s a part that’s not included in that, how much I spent for that month. That’s where they get you. They really do. It’s not the gas. Yeah, they do. Um, so the gasoline portion, I, I think I spent 500 to 800 a week on gas. But I was booking it. So, uh, I would only spend probably a night or two in each location, and then I would go to the next.
And were you doing this by yourself? That particular trip actually had somebody with me, so a friend was with me in the van, and I also had other friends who heard about. I’m not taking this trip during the pandemic and at one point I think we had four cars caravanning for one week of it, which was fun.
Oh, nice. You must have met other caravans too, I would imagine. You must have met other people doing similar stuff or because of the pandemic were you far away from them? Yeah, it’s
interesting. In van life, I anticipated there would be a big community of people who would want to socialize. Sure. For the most part what I found the majority of the time is people themselves wanted to be isolated Which is why they were out in the middle of nowhere So I did have a little bit of a community because I knew people who had lived in vans and they’d met up with us But no, I did not make any too many new connections during that trip So as you went across the country Did you have to plan ahead of where I’m going to stop tonight or can you just wing it?
Yeah, you can wing it which is awesome. So I did most of the winging I think there was like a rough itinerary once going out there as to I’d like to hit these Locations maybe at some point I guess if it works out. So it is very much You can decide one day at noon that you thought you would stay overnight in a location, but here, overhear a conversation from another table next to you at breakfast and realize they’re talking about something happening four hours away tonight and you want to be there and all you have to do is get in your car and go.
So, being able to be wherever you want at a moment’s notice is one of the greatest advantages of living in a van. And is that still the case post pandemic? It sure is.
Best National Park you went to?
Death Valley maybe, but I actually really liked the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. That was my favorite.
Oh, I liked Death Valley a lot, too. Wasn’t it wild? It was so wild. We were in by like 11 a. m. every day because it got so hot, but the mornings at Death Valley, it was amazing. Like, I didn’t even want to go because of the words death, valley, like, but Cheryl said hey, let’s go and it was, it was
amazing. Yeah, it’s a little off putting by name, but the experience
really is great.
They need to rename it, they got bad PR. Yeah, it’s true. Yeah, really bad, they need to redo that. And then, and then besides the car breaking down, worst experience, if you were going to do this full time, what would you change?
There was a couple times when I did do it solo, and when the van leaked during a rainstorm and I was in the pack northwest during rainy season, I got nervous.
But I figured that out. And I think it’s one of those, you know, if it doesn’t, Kill you, it makes you stronger kind of thing. So, one thing I would really like if I was to do this more permanently is I would have a vehicle with a refrigerator in it. I did have a refrigerator door in some of my cars and other cars none.
But that’s probably about it. Just to have a fridge. To have a fridge, right. There’s other things that are inconvenient like finding places to stay can sometimes be a challenge. But there’s no way to really fix that. I have to ask this question. Did it have a port a potty? This is a very good question. And none of the vehicles except for one, when I camped with a cousin who lives in a Volkswagen Westfalia.
He has a composting toilet. But other than that vehicle, all of my others have not had toilets. In a traditional sense.
Would that change next time? Yes,
if I ever owned my vehicle and did this more frequently, I would certainly have some sort of toilet.
We’re getting very analytical about the… Is it more stuff?
Tell us more about the sh
I’d prefer to tell you about the she wee.
But it’s funny, do you see yourself doing this again in the future? Like, was that a successful thing that now you see yourself maybe not having a house and ever doing van life full time? Yeah,
I would like to if I was fully remote at work. So that might be the part that’s holding me back, but I have done it many times since.
And now I know even the SUVs I can rent that I know I can lay down horizontally in without a problem. I do it frequently.
And this is the thing that holds a lot of people back, of course, because of the job, because of the boss. Your goal was to work remotely. How did that work out with the boss, with the job, with clients?
It was great
during the pandemic because I was not expected to be anywhere physically during that time. Could you do it
today though, you think?
I could for a short period of time. So if I was ever to get a vehicle of my own, I would not be able to do like long travel on the road without needing to come back to my home base.
Yeah, that’s awesome. Annie, thank you so much for telling your story and for helping people maybe decide, uh, I’m trying to stay away from the toilet stuff, but I can’t. Thank you for helping people understand toilets and vans. I really appreciate it.
You’re very welcome. Thanks for having me. It
is interesting though, we have, we have how many people that work, or that are here with us are digital nomads that go, I know Chris is here, is a digital nomad. And um, uh, Chris, you’ve been doing it for, for how long? You’re in your fifth year, and for you, do you mind coming up here for a second? We have an impromptu guest everybody, say hi to Chris.
We’re gonna go from part time to full timer, so, so, uh, five years ago, you just said, I’m gone.
No, I planned for a year. Okay. I like logistics and planning and thinking ahead and understanding what to hopefully
expect. But yours was going to be a full time. I mean, it wasn’t, you weren’t, you weren’t going to be in a van for a little while.
You were going to do this forever. Correct.
This was very purposeful. I had learned about digital nomad communities. And at the same time, I learned about the fire communities and minimalism. And so I married all those three, like. Core ideas, you know, or communities together. I took all the tenants and married it together And I knew this was the life that would work best for me.
that been the case? Absolutely What do you wish you would have planned for more? And what did you do you feel like you over prepared for and you were too nervous about that? You probably could have been a little more laid back on.
Great. Yeah, I’m really proud of myself for diving deep into a lot of different categories I felt quite prepared.
I did actually here in Bali is the first time I ran into my biggest trouble was I couldn’t access my cash. Out of 20, 22 countries, I got here and I hit some ATMs and um, my Charles Schwab, my golden debit card, I couldn’t get my money out. And so, talk about feeling, you know, I’ve I’ve reached a nice portion of my fi, and I’m sitting here like, I’m a poor rich person, right?
Like, I can’t get my literal cash, so that was… An interesting obstacle, but I’m a really, really good problem solver, I worked through it, I found out what I needed to do, not use that card with certain machines, um. And you weren’t the only one. Yeah, well, I think I kind of forewarned a few people, but then they figured it out here too, and so that was interesting, because I’ve been to so many other countries, and I haven’t had a problem, because I purposefully banked with them because they said they handle travelers, you know, they’re the company, right?
But they were so kind about it too because obviously I got on the phone and they gave me a little credit for inconvenience. Because there was nothing they could do. It is a local issue. So now
I know. Yeah. Yeah. And then the best thing, the thing you could have been more laid back about that you really made you
So, because I’m such a planner and I love logistics and the planning ahead gives me peace and confidence. Confidence, yeah. Thankfully, I’ve gotten really good about… Being open to spontaneity, and actually just a couple days ago, I met a wonderful woman who owns, co owns a sailing company, and, um, unexpectedly, I actually haven’t announced this myself yet, on my So Social media.
a minute, you’re, you’re announcing something for the first time right? Here? I am. Awesome.
So is your show gonna go out before my announcement? Awesome. Well, we’re gonna make sure it does now, an exclusive right here. Yeah. I am jumping on a sailboat in Northern Indonesia, and I’m gonna be sailing for 12 days, 11 nights.
With an expert, we’re going to have cultural experiences on different islands every day. And I get a snorkel, which is one of my biggest passions, every day. And I honestly just hadn’t thought about checking out different parts of Indonesia yet. Because I was just going to hang out here in Bali and like, enjoy all of it.
And yeah, I just, I met a wonderful person because I cold emailed them. They’re a president of a local rotary club. I reached out because I enjoy fellowship with this organization worldwide. And we just got to talking, not only about What their organization is doing locally, but her personally and her husband and their life story.
And when I found out this and I said, I love cruising and sailing and snorkeling. She said, we have an open cabin and it starts on October 4th. You’re talking, you’re speaking my language.
Yeah, that is amazing. That’s fantastic. But, but what I heard there was, you know, a lot of people will go see places. But they don’t get out and talk to local people.
And you went to the Rotary meeting here and you said that is, that is a thing that you do no matter where you go. Like you try to get into the local community.
I do. So I travel the world full time. My, my main purpose is that I want to know what it’s like to live in different communities around the world that are quite different from where I grew up across the U S.
Part of that is that I’ll connect with local Rotary clubs because there’s over 1. 4 million members across the world. So I know there’s people that are open to new friendships and it gives me an opportunity to volunteer if something’s going on at the time that I’m there. And I use a lot of other methods to connect with different community members, but this has been a nice way.
That’s fabulous. Tell me, do you have an issue in all these different countries and places you’ve visited and lived, do you have an issue with language barriers? For the most part, a lot of people speak English or enough of it that we can communicate well. I love Google Translate. I’ve, I make sure I download the correct languages and I do my best, but I also find…
If I’m struggling with a little bit of communication, I’ll actually go out to Google and Google Images. And so I’ll just type in keywords and then like you find a picture and you show it and everyone kind of nods like oh yeah, go this way, go that way. I had a
full conversation with a gentleman outside the airport as we were waiting for our ride.
We talked about what the weather’s like here, we talked about everything. It was just, we were passing the phone back and forth and having this great conversation. It was, it was incredible. Chris, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about what it’s like to be a full timer. Thank you. Thank you.
Alright Becky, let’s do some trivia. How about that? You bet. Alright, we need three victims, I mean, volunteers. John, come on up. And then you know what? I’m gonna pick on the guy who finished last a couple weeks ago at Camp Fi. David, come on up. David, by the way, is the Paula Pant of, and people that don’t listen to our show don’t know this, but Paula is horrible at trivia and David, you were rotten at trivia a couple weeks ago.
So we’re gonna give David another. Two dudes, so we need a woman, somebody, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, oh, the hostess with the mostess, Amy! Yes, alright, so let’s meet our, uh, victims. Your name, ma’am, is? Amy Minkley. And you’re originally from?
Rural Texas, Amarillo.
Woo! And when you’re not putting on retreats, what do you do for fun?
I am loving my life in Bali.
That’s, that’s, it sucks so bad here. It’s so horrible. Yeah, I know, right? And your name? Uh, my name’s John Thomas. And John, you’re from? Originally from Belize. Awesome, and how long did it take you to, where do you live now? I currently live in Jacksonville, Florida. And how long did it take you to get here?
Ooh, 38 hours. That’s all. And, and, you may have had some fun with, uh, what was it, uh, the Balinese water, was it? Oh, that purification ritual really purifies you completely. John had a lot of purification, if you know what I mean. Yes. And, your name, sir? David. And David, you are from? Arizona, but I live in Virginia, outside of, uh, D.
C. Awesome, and you and I have met at Camp Phi, and uh, how many Camp Phis have you gone to? Uh, I just finished my ninth one. Awesome, and your favorite part of this so far? The favorite part of Bali? Uh, I’ve just met so many wonderful people, and the speakers have been absolutely outstanding. And the…
Especially that first guy. Uh, he was okay.
I think, I think, I think, I think I might, yeah, oh. Do we have a replacement for David? Anybody? Yes. Alright, we’re gonna, yes, yes. Well, mom’s neighbor Doug is inside the speaker, and he’s going to do our trivia. So let’s, uh, let’s see what Doug’s got for us.
Hey there, stackers! I’m Joe’s mom’s neighbor, Doug, and hold on! What are you looking over there? Don’t look over there! I’m right here, I’m right here! That’s, you’re looking, look right at me! Anyway, I’m talking to you. Not him, I’m talking to you. I’m just kidding. But what I’m not kidding about is that Bali is one heck of a place, am I right?
Wait, I said… Yeah, that’s better. Between the incredible white sand beaches on one side of the island and the black sand on the other side, the traditional dancing and drinks that can make you go blind. I mean, your mom warned you about that when you were a teenager, didn’t she? There is a heap of culture in Bali.
So, let’s ask a money related question. In Bali, if you want to get ahead, apparently, you’d better be a hard worker because while we have 365 days in a year, the traditional Balinese Pawukan calendar has far fewer. So, you’d better bring your A game and then maybe take the next year off. So, here’s your question, stackers.
Exactly how many days are in the traditional Balinese Pawukan calendar? That’s probably how you say it. I’ll be back with the answer after I see how this sarong fits. Joe’s mom and I want to make Joe feel at home when he gets back off the plane in Texarkana. Yeah, nothing will make me feel more comfortable in Texarkana than people meeting with me with a sarong.
Alright, we’ve got the uh, well I think that we need, David gets to go last. Yes, because of a couple weeks ago. So we’ll give David the benefit. It feels weird having the hometown woman here. Do you know the answer to this one already, Amy? I’m not sure. Okay. I
think I have a good guess. I think it’s more like 400 days.
400 days. Wait, I was less. I’m going to be here and say, didn’t he say that they have less? He did say it’s less.
I don’t want to help you, but 400’s your guess. Thank you for locking that in. I don’t think she locked it in. Hold on. Would you like another guess, Amy?
I Yeah, I, I just need, can I have a time, a second to think? Okay, I’m gonna go with 300.
300 days. Now what’s funny is we didn’t even say what you guys are playing for.
We’re gonna play for a Stacking Benjamins t shirt. We’ll send you a code and Amy and I got together and we brought a book uh, for somebody who won the trivia but we forgot and gave it away yesterday. We looked at each other today and were like, uh oh, yeah. But we’ll send you one when we get back home, alright?
So, John Thomas 300, what do you think? Well, I don’t want to be Chelsea Brennan. So, we gotta give him, I’m being a total Len here. I’m gonna go, hold on a second. For people that don’t watch our show, Chelsea Brennan is a wonderful financial influencer. Chelsea’s been on our show a lot. Every time that somebody says 300, Chelsea says 301.
So, being Chelsea Brennan means that you come in right over top of them. I’m gonna honor Len Penzo here and give her some wide berth and go with 333. 333, alright David. It’s your big move. 334.
So you feeling good about your 300? I’m not sure, no. No.
And you’ve got, uh, 333. You feeling good? Oh yeah, now I understand Len. At 334, you got all the upside. Statistically, I might win. What do you guys think is, who do you, Marley’s raising her hand back here, what do you think? You know the answer? What do you think it is? What do you think it is? 210, she thinks.
Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see if Marley’s right, Amy’s right, John Thomas is right, or I hope David’s right. Alright, here we go, you guys ready? Uh, Doug, what’s our answer?
Hey there, stackers! I’m Balinese fashionista and soon to be famous traditional dancer, Joe’s mom’s neighbor, Doug. You know, before I get you your trivia answer, I gotta ask, does this sarong make my butt look big? Nah, really, you can be honest. Hank, it really doesn’t matter, because if this is so wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Ha ha! I got a bunch of them. It’s hard to hear through this speaker, but I’m sure you laughed like crazy at that joke. I just thought of it right there on the spot. And you thought that Keith was the only one with dad jokes. I got your number, Keith! Okay, it’s time to get you the big trivia answer, because I’m sure you’re all thrilled!
that one of you is walking away with Joe’s book. Did he tell you he wrote a book? Or that CNN called it a must read in 2023? Consider it your lucky day if you haven’t heard that story. But, our story today was about the Balinese Powhukan calendar. Powhukan? Powhukan? Something like that. How many days are in the traditional Balinese calendar?
In a move that makes zero sense to me, the Balinese created a calendar made up of some weeks that have as many as 10 days, and others with as few as one day. I totally want that work week, but how many days total in a year? If you said 210, you’re absolutely correct! And you have too much useless knowledge stuck in your brain.
Get a hobby. Get a Congratulations, anyways! See ya! Marley, nice job! You should’ve raised your hand! Woo hoo! Okay, so our winner is our hostess, Amy! Thank you! Big hand for Amy! I don’t know who’s hanging up. Ha ha ha ha ha! Nice job, David. Good work, John Thomas, David Bigham for all three of them, everybody. Yes, and Amy, you’re getting a book and a T shirt.
You get a Stacking Benjamins T shirt. Marley, we’re going to give you one, too. So I just need your address and because Becky, she nailed it. She
did. I’m loving
it. All right. Let’s go to the second half of the show. We’re going to go from life down by the river to a woman who went, you know, I think I might be financially independent.
Ooh. Yes. Yes. Big hand for Tanya. Everybody. Yes.
Tanya. I love the first night when we met and you told this story to me just a little bit, and the more you tell, the more exciting it gets. But let’s start here. Tell me how the heck did you stumble your way into financial independence?
Yeah, it happened about a year ago. I was just, Doing my usual thing.
Just saving money, just working, um, like we’re supposed to do. And then I went to my first Phi event. I went to Camp Phi in Minnesota last year. A friend of mine told me that this was my crowd, she told me this was my tribe, and that I should show up, and she was right. And so I’ve been to four or five events over the last year, and it’s completely changed my life.
but at which, was it at one of those events that you went, I might be financially independent, or was it before that?
No, it was really at one of those events. I mean, I think up until that time, I was just, like I said, doing the usual thing, I mean, we’re just trained to keep working until the day you die, you know, you work until you’re 65.
And so that was my plan. I had no idea that there was another
option. So let’s start here. Just people listening to the podcast are like, okay, how old is she? I’m 49. You’re 49 years old. And when you first started saving, when did you start saving?
You know, I was so lucky. I was like 24 at my first job and I was You know at HR.
I’m doing my orientation and the HR girl She was 24 too, and she was saying you know you got to save you got to put money in your 401k At least you have to do you know what the company matches? I’m like I don’t even know what that is you know I’m and so I just went ahead and started doing it and so Between that and then a few years later.
You know someone saying yeah put money in a Roth I mean, that’s that’s really it those are the things I did So you did what we’ve talked about sometimes on Catching Up with Fi, of you pay yourself first. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think a lot of it begins with, um, you know, growing up, you know, from an immigrant family.
You know, you, you save a lot, you don’t have a lot. You know, your parents come from a poor country. So you want to, you know, save as much as you can. I mean, I think the biggest thing in my family was, you know, just… Just do everything you can to make sure your kids have a good life. And so we, we really didn’t have a lot, but you know, they want to make sure we had a good education.
And so I think you just realize you don’t need very much. You know, I didn’t covet things and, and that’s the biggest thing. It’s just living in a really simple sort of way. And uh, you know, you still want things fine, but it doesn’t have to be. The fanciest thing, you know, you don’t have to get the Gucci bag that you see, you know, someone else carrying down the street like Doug does.
Yeah, anyway, sorry. Yeah, yeah, no. So you’re just, you know, the key is to not be a sheep. You know, I mean, I think American culture, you’re, you know, you see what’s on Instagram and you think, you know, I need to have this, I need to have that. And if you realize, nah, you really don’t.
It always amazes me when I go to a mall, which is almost never, but I see just how many people are at the mall for fun.
And I think there’s just nothing, I don’t know, being at this place where I’m just going to buy stuff for fun, you know. That sounds painful. It does sound
painful. No, I mean, my life was kind of like that, though. I mean, you know, I think growing… Walking through the mall for fun? Yeah, for sure. Yeah, believe it or not.
But still not really feeling the need to… Spend a ton, but you know, I think other interests, you know, those didn’t grow until later. And so, you know, it’s not like my family, we, we, my parents worked a ton. And so, so we really did, you know, go to the mall for fun, but we still didn’t feel like you needed everything.
You could have had a van down by the river.
Yeah, and that would have been, and that would have been fine. It sounds like you had, um, living a simple but comfortable life modeled to you. Yeah, for sure. Um, just realizing, um, I mean, you know, it’s actually pretty complex. You know, I think, again, when you do come from an immigrant family, there are people who really want to display a lot of wealth, but then, you know, you just realize you don’t have to.
alternative. I want to get back to, uh, your saving journey. So you start saving at 24 into the 401k. Yep. The 24 year old woman in HR says, put in at least a match. Is that what you did or did you put in more? I think
at that moment, I think I just put in the match. I think it was like two, three years later that I started
Yeah. And then how did you get the aha about doing a Roth IRA on top of that? Oh.
An ex husband. Let’s be honest. But yeah, I mean, he’s like, yeah, you know, put your money in this Vanguard account and lend. So, I mean, I’m actually pretty embarrassed to say, you know, I’m a pretty smart cookie. I know a lot about a lot of things.
But, uh, financial literacy. was not something that I spent a lot of time on. I think it was intimidating. I think it’s still intimidating for a lot of people.
But what’s great is you didn’t spend a lot of time on what the hot investment was, or picking the perfect investment, it sounds like. Oh,
heck no. I mean, I knew that I could not.
I mean, that was not in my purview. I had other interests in mind. And I think that’s the key, is that there are a lot of people who do have other interests in mind. So they just put the financial stuff on the back burner. And, and they think, you know, they don’t have time for that. They, but they are scared of
Okay, so let’s get to this moment then. When do you figure out, holy crap, I think I’m already there? I think I have enough that I can, I can stop working if I choose to. Uh,
it was at Economy in March of this year. That was it. You were
at the conference when you realized that you were there.
Yeah, cause I was talking to people.
So what happened was last September I started meeting this, people from this amazing community. And so I finally had like people I could talk about the situation with. And so I… I was honest. I brought out, you know, some of my numbers to somebody at economy and and they’re like, yeah, you’re golden. I cried I mean, I was in the middle of the you know, 400 people in there.
I was like, you gotta be kidding me It was just this moment of reckoning. It was crazy. That’s super cool. It changed my life in a weekend like to have that Uh huh. Yeah. I mean this time a year ago. I was still pan. I knew I wanted to Probably get out of my work that I’m currently doing, even though my work is very rewarding.
It’s very stressful. And so it’s like, well, if I’m going to leave this job, what am I going to do next? Really, really panicked about, you know, who’s going to hire me at 49? Is that a problem? You know, can I make the same salary? Do I need to make the same salary? So just so many questions. And, uh, and then suddenly.
I realized that and now I’m completely zen. So I’ve got friends who are like, what happened in the last year? And that’s what happened. That’s amazing to me, to have that kind of realization when you had no idea it was sitting there in front of you. No, because again, I think I was just a sheep. You know, like, yeah, you just follow the pattern.
You, you, you, you think, yeah, you gotta keep working, like, keep your nose to the grindstone, do important work, do good job at, you know, for, for what you’re doing, and, and then, yeah. I
think, I think, Becky, what’s interesting to me about what Tanya’s talking about is You know, she’s, she’s here with us in Bali.
She’s with like-minded people. Mm-hmm. , she’s gone to Camp Fives, which are like-minded people. She’s at a economy and it’s partly this immersion, not that made her Okay. Saving, made her okay doing her thing and not being a sheep to use Tanya language. Right. Made her thing. But, but this reaffirming confidence you get from coming to this stuff.
Are you guys feeling that the confidence you get by being here? Yeah.
Yeah. So what kind of emotions came right after that? What did you feel? Because sometimes I’ve heard stories where people realize they’re Phi and It’s not what they
expected. Did you feel like John Thomas after the cleansing ritual?
It was relief. It was elation But there’s still fear there, you know, I have to admit there’s definitely still fear there because it’s like oh my god Okay, fine. You tell me that but I still don’t really understand how I got
here Well, let’s well, let’s talk about that for a second because you and I were talking earlier Which is why I wanted you to tell this story to all the stackers, because you said you have a financial
I do have a financial advisor. I’ve probably seen him for about 10 years. He charges me 175 bucks an hour. I see him every once in a while, half the time he doesn’t charge me. But I’m surprised though,
did your advisor ever say, Tanya, I think you’re okay?
Uh, no, because he was also still following the same pattern, the same MO of, you know, you work till you’re 65.
I mean, he told me I’d be fine after that, But, I mean, we never really discussed, uh, me possibly. Oh,
you had never brought to them that the goal was different. Is that what you’re saying? Yeah,
I don’t really think I knew the goal was different, again, until I met people in the Phi community. I didn’t know this was an option.
So, did he help you define your goal post? Did he help you define what that end line was going to be? Yes. Yes. For sure. No, he actually has been really helpful. But, and that’s been great, but on the other hand, it’s still been very helpful to talk to people in this community as well, just to
Well, let’s talk about one of those people who’s in, who’s in the room right now. You asked… Our friend, Mark, let’s bring up Mark Troutman.
So when did you decide to reach out to Mark to verify that you might be ready
to go? I think it was probably a few weeks after economy. I think it was probably in a late March. Yeah, and
why reach out to Mark when you already have this advisor who it sounds like is on your
team? Because it’s a different viewpoint.
Like I said, I mean Mark. It’s like the second opinion. Well second opinion, but in terms of My financial advisor wasn’t really thinking of it in terms of financial independence, so to speak, at an early age. And so just to have, you know, confirmation, I think.
So we don’t need to talk specific numbers, but Mike, you get this call out of the blue from Tanya.
I’m thinking like 3 a. m. Probably not. Do you remember this phone call or this, uh, maybe text or whatever it was? Well, I think it was actually at Economy and she was talking to another individual, which I highly respect, and he said, you know, you should also talk to Mark because Based on what I see here, you’re good to go, but if you want another opinion in this community, talk to Mark, and she said, I want to reach out to you after our economy, we scheduled a Zoom call, we kind of went through stuff, and I was like, yeah, he’s right, you’re good, you’re good to go.
What is it that you think that Tanya did really well? Well, it saved a lot, um, so that certainly was the case, but I mean, there’s other aspects that come into play that I think a lot of people don’t think about, such as, you know, when is Social Security going to turn on, do you have a pension, so there were other aspects of the plan that were also beneficial, not just the basic 4 percent rule, do I have enough, 25 times kind of approach, so it was very much more of a Checks and balances for the entire process of the drawdown phase of retirement for the rest of your life.
Not just 25x. And Tanya, you haven’t left your job. Not yet. No, so let’s talk about this though, because I mean retiring as young as you are What do you think about things like health care?
Oh, you know, I’m very lucky I have a state job, and I get health care. I just feel like I won the jackpot. I don’t know how I got this lucky, but, you know, once I turn 50, I actually have a pension.
That certainly plays into this a lot. And so, it’s not fully just what I’ve saved. It’s working at this job for 20 years. I have a question. Do you, in
your, um, That’s your job, Becky, is to have questions. Can I do that?
Let me, let me think. Um, so, I’m sorry, you said it was a state? Good job. So, was your savings plan the TSP?
Uh, it’s something like that. Yeah. But I think, you know, having that option of health insurance for the rest of my life is huge. Yeah. So. That is a biggie. That’s a biggie. That
is a big one. Yeah. I mean, the people that you talk to on your show, Becky, I mean, you know, health insurance is always an issue and having a pension is a wonderful, wonderful place to start.
Oh, it is. And that is somewhat rare these days. Um, that was one of the issues that Steven and I had. We knew that retirement was all on us. There was no pension, there was nothing like that, and we still didn’t pay attention,
so, yeah. Mark, I don’t, I know you don’t regularly meet with a lot of people one on one, but when you do see people one on one, and they’re retiring early, if they don’t have the healthcare covered like Tanya does…
How big of a roadblock is that? Well, it depends on how you structure your income. So, for example, many early retirees can choose to show less income, and therefore take advantage of the subsidies in the, uh, you know, Obamacare healthcare system. And some people choose to do that, others don’t need to do that, and are just afraid even to know what the, um, The amount is going to be and I just flat out tell them what mine is.
I’m a single person It’s 1, 000 a month and for many people they’re like, oh, I thought it was gonna be, you know Two times three times that and they have enough wherewithal to do that and occasionally they may get a subsidy as well So it’s usually not as bad as people fear. They just haven’t looked into it It’s funny the one thing that I heard you not say directly But we know, we live in a community of people, Mark, that are optimizers, right?
And it sounds like what you’re saying is solving for flexibility versus optimization often is your best friend. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, in that case, you know, there are different levers that you can pull when you retire early. So one is… You know, reducing your income for subsidies, or in some cases you’ll avoid the subsidy or not receive the subsidy to do Roth conversions because your lifetime tax situation will be better if you convert while you’re not earning any income.
So there are all different levers that you have available in the early retirement sphere before other income, even things like pension and social security, turn on. That is a superpower in this community if you do have the knowledge and ability to. Kind of take advantage of optimization. Tonya, one of our breakout, our potential breakout sessions has been the one more year syndrome where people are at the point that you’re at, they have enough resources, it takes a lot of confidence to actually make that move.
When do you think you’re going to make the move? Yeah,
I mean, that’s the big question.
Can you announce to your boss on the Stacking Benjamins show right now?
I’ve been thinking about it. Um, we’ll see. I mean, I feel like I do have that one year syndrome, one year, one more year syndrome nagging. Or at least a few more months.
something. I mean, it’s hard to let go. And I think, like I said, since I don’t think that I’ve had the financial literacy that I want to have, I think once I have that, when I, when I feel really, really comfortable, I will be much more ready to say, yeah, I understand these numbers fully, and I trust that it’s going to work out.
And then I think I’ll be ready to go.
I love that approach, Becky, because it’s not about the people around you just saying it’s great, it’s that you know that it’s great. We talked about that, I talked about that earlier in my talk, that you don’t have smart people like Mark around you so that they take it from you.
You have to be the one who knows your own numbers. You gotta come to Bali, you have to go to Camp Fi, you have to go to Economy, you have to understand how this stuff works yourself, and then surround yourself with smart people.
Right, right, and you can. It’s completely doable. We started not knowing anything.
You start out with small bites, and once you get a little more understanding, then you can start biting off bigger chunks, and eventually… You know, I’d say after a couple of events, and again, surrounding yourself with this community, who is so helpful, engaging, encouraging. I mean, everybody here is here to help each other with no…
ulterior motives. Yeah. So I think it’s great and and so that’s what we did. We learned along the way and we continue to learn even after we retired. We didn’t have it all all together when we retired and so now we’ve been able to make even better
choices. I remember an early conversation when I first met you that, uh, you and I had about when you first started going to events like this, you found a lot of it confusing.
Yes. Yes, I did. And we actually had a breakout today for the folks that are brand new to PHI. Mark was leading that group and did an excellent job at just stepping them through. What does this mean? What kinds of things do we need to think about? What kinds of things do you need to research and learn for yourself?
But, again, we’re all here to help.
Mark, you had something to say about Tanya’s readiness. Yeah, I was just going to say, in reference to the One More Year Syndrome, that is one of the benefits of coming to an event like this, because it’s not just about the finances, are you ready, but sometimes it’s mentally, are you ready?
And there’s a number of us who have already walked that. that walk and we can explain, yeah, it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have challenges when the paycheck turns off, but it really is not as bad as you may be fearing. And so there are people here that have walked those steps and can help you through that.
And even as you take those steps, be there for you. And
it’s losing your identity, too. I mean, having been defined by the same thing I’ve been doing for 20 years, it’s gonna be hard to walk away
from that. But, the cool thing, the other thing that we talked about that really fired me up, Tanya, was when you said, You do have a big passion beyond the work you’re doing now.
Talk about that for a second. Yeah,
I currently work in global health. I work all over the world. I, uh, I’ve been going to Africa for 20 years, and Asia. for the last 10. And so I see things that a lot of people don’t see. I’m always frustrated with the amount of disparity and inequality we have in the world.
And so for me, it’s very important to me to, uh, I mean, I’ve thought about maybe working for a foundation. I mean, we, we need to try to equalize things a bit more. And so I’m hoping that I can continue to work in health, but maybe do it on my terms, you know, maybe do it, you know, 20 hours a week. Perhaps, you know, or, or maybe doing it on a volunteer basis, but just being able to keep furthering, helping people advance in other countries that who really don’t have as much as we do in the U S I actually also joined Rotary in April of this year.
And Rotary has been an amazing thing because I joined Rotary so I could do domestic work. I live in Durham, North Carolina. I wanted to work on habitat projects in Durham, you know, I wanted to, you know, help clean up parks, you know, that kind of thing. And then I realized that they actually have an enormous foundation, they have 1.
4 members around the world, and so, all of a sudden, I’m being able to work with Rotary Clubs in Uganda, to like… You know, help, uh, villages there, um, promote, uh, healthcare workers going to, you know, help kids who are under the age of five so they don’t get malaria, so they don’t get TB. And like, that’s amazing.
And so I am really excited to have more time to work on things like that. Tanya, I love this because you’re talking about the fact that you already have a passion and a purpose. And we’ve talked a lot this weekend about purpose in
retirement. Yeah, and that’s what I find the most powerful thing is that the happiest retirees have this sense of Not just this, you know I’m retiring to something, not from something, but a much, much deeper purpose.
Does anybody doubt here that Tanya’s going to be okay with her purpose? Anybody doubt? I think she’s going to be okay. Thank you, by the way, for being so vulnerable and telling us about this tipping point that you’re at. I can’t wait to hear the rest of your story. Thank you so much. Thank you. And Mark, thank you so much for helping out.
Thank you. Thank you.
Becky, that is so inspirational. Oh, I love it. And by the way, those are just a couple stories. I wish we have, uh, Amy, how many people are here? 46. 46 people. We have 46 kick ass different stories. I haven’t heard them all yet, but I feel like everybody I’ve had breakfast, lunch, dinner with, been in breakouts with, like the, the, the fabric, how we all got there a different way is pretty awesome.
And Amy, how many countries are represented?
We have people from the United States, Singapore, Australia, and, and Thailand, no that’s right, and Bali, and Bali, and Bali, yeah we’ve got five.
Oh, this is amazing. Amy’s as good at that as she is at, uh, trivia.
She’s holding up six fingers.
Four hundred. John Thomas, like, I just wanna, there’s a complaint. John Thomas is like, I should’ve won. Yes, that’s like every time we do trivia, there’s an asterisk after it. Yes, it wouldn’t be a Stacking Benjamins show if there wasn’t an asterisk after it. Becky, your biggest takeaway so far this week, this, uh, few days we’ve been here?
Stephen and I have been to a lot of Phi events. And I love the fact that every event we go to is different because it’s a different crowd of people. It’s a different mix of people, but they’re always awesome. And this one has woven together not only our FI conversations and the types of things we normally talk about.
But also Balinese culture, and we’ve learned so much about the area that we’ve been in for the last few days.
I love the fact that Amy included people from Bali with these amazing missions. We had some phenomenal speakers before that, but I don’t know about you. We had a woman here named Colleen and she’s like, how are you guys feeling?
And people are like empowered and excited. I’m like, I feel like a dumpster fire because I can’t stop crying. I just, I’m like, I’m not crying. You’re crying. It was, it was amazing.
There was amazing stories. And we have the opportunity tomorrow to go visit the village that the folks that were here today speaking with us.
And we get to see their culture and their lives
in action. You guys aren’t looking forward to that, are you?
I love all the speakers that we had. They’ve been great. But I think that Marlee, who’s here with us tonight, really encapsulated all of it when she said, The two best days, the day you’re born and the day you find out why. Absolutely. And that was, that was pretty powerful. I mean, we’ve, we’ve really spent a lot of time on that.
It’s surprising because supposedly this is about money and we’ve… We’ve talked much more about why are we here than money. There’s so
many more things to talk about. I mean, money permeates every aspect of your life and, and we talk about those here,
not just money. Well, okay, let’s get really serious then for our last segment of the show.
We call this the Back Porch. This is where we’re finished talking about money, but we are talking about fun. Well, some of these stories might include money. I would love to hear from you before we say goodbye, some of the stories people had, uh, either getting here or while they were here. And actually, even though Marley has her hand up, I would love for, she’s like not looking at me, not looking at me, Monica, do you mind coming up?
Come on up, Monica. Can you? Will you?
Monica has this, I’m gonna call it an amazing story, Monica may not agree. So I was walking out to a group of people, Monica, with you. By the way, how are you doing? I’m great. I survived. You survived, that’s right. Don’t foreshadow, don’t foreshadow. So, you and I and Laura, another person here with us, we walk up together, I say goodbye to you guys as you’re going off merrily to see what?
We were going to the monkey forest. Monkey forest. Which means there’s monkeys and they’re in a forest. Yes. Yes.
And sometimes, and sometimes they’re outside of the forest.
Okay. So you get to the monkey forest, let’s hear, so what happened? So
I’m, there’s safety in numbers, right? We know this. So we’re walking as a large safety group.
And there’s like what, maybe eight of you, nine of you it looked like? Eighteen. Oh, there were eighteen? Oh, there were way more. Yes. And
we’re walking across the sidewalk and a monkey’s there. Great, she has her baby with her. Don’t make eye contact. I have nothing shiny on. Keep going. And the monkey, uh, decided…
It wanted to make contact with me.
Samantha… said, here, can you hold my cup? Thank God, because she, uh, handed me her cup and this monkey, I saw it coming towards me and I quickly started backing up going, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. And it growled and hissed and showed its teeth and lunged at my leg. It was going to take off my leg.
sure. But it got my shorts. And so I quickly, have you had a rabies shot? I have not, but it didn’t break the skin. So we’re good. Okay. We’re good. But it did scratch you.
No, it got my shorts. It got my shorts. So, Samantha’s cup saved my life because I threw it down and it was satisfied with a
cup of ice.
Thank you, Samantha.
Death by monkey. See, you’re not a fan of the monkeys.
I’m done with that. We can scratch that right off the list.
She’s like, I’ve done it. Thank you, Monica. Thank you. Thanks.
Marley, you’ve got one? Come on out, Marley. Uh, while Marley’s on her way up, Becky, I’m going to tell my story. Alright. Which is that, uh, so, it was my lovely spouse Cheryl’s birthday as we came here and Amy knew it was her birthday so she told the hotel that it was Sheryl’s birthday. We get to our room and we have, and I think some other people had the same thing, but we had, I love you.
And did you guys have, I love you in rose petals? Yeah. Yes. We had, I love you in rose petals. We had, we had rose petals in the tub, which was fantastic, but there’s a knock on the door and they bring us this huge platter and this cake that says happy honeymoon.
And they tell us we’re in the honeymoon suite and it’s our honeymoon. And I looked at Sheryl and I said, yeah, I’ve had this trip on layaway for the 30 years we’ve been married. I’ve been paying 67 cents a week. For the last 30 years, I actually had a paid off six years ago, but I couldn’t afford the flight.
So then I had to do so. Congratulations.
So no one came to the door and said, you’re in the wrong room.
Well, no, Becky, what’s funny is, so we just thought, and I talked to Amy about this. We just thought they messed it up, right? They thought it was honeymoon instead of a birthday. And so we’re getting ready for this wonderful outdoor ceremony, opening night celebration that Amy’s put on for all of us.
Just leaving and there’s another knock on the door and they bring two cupcakes and sing happy birthday to us So now it’s Cheryl’s birthday and we’re newlyweds
It’s a complete
package. Yeah. Yeah, Cheryl’s looking and she’s like I frickin love Bali This place is awesome But Marilee’s here with us.
Everybody give her a big round of applause.
Hey everybody, what’s
happening? You had an awesome talk, by the way. Thank you so much. Oh, thank you. Yes, so, what’s your Bali travel story?
Bali travel story is that, uh, someone put out there on the group that they were hiking a mountain at sunrise on essentially the night that I got in, so I flew in, I got here at 8 p.
m. Went to bed for a couple hours and woke up at 2:00 AM to go hike a mountain .
And you were on a plane for how long before
that? I was on a plane for approximately 32 hours. Oh good. This is a good decision. Yeah. Yep. I was just like, sure. I’m already, you know, I don’t know what time it is. I don’t know what day it is.
I don’t know where I am, but I’m gonna hike up a mountain with someone that I have never met before in my entire life. I was like, this is a great idea. Like sure, let’s go for it. So we get in the car at like 3 in the morning. It’s dark. We drive for an hour and a half Outside the city. I have no idea what’s going on other than I’m hiking up a mountain Then we get to a random place and they’re like and now we’re gonna get on a boat It is now 4 30 in the morning It is still dark and we get on this boat in the biggest lake in all of Bali And we’re seeing all of these, like, stars in the sky and it’s just us two and a guy.
Is it stars
or are you delirious?
Uh, probably a little bit of both. Probably a little bit of both. And so, we’re on the boat for, I don’t know, 10, 15 minutes, something like that, get to the trailhead, and it’s literally two of us and a guide hiking up this mountain. Wait a minute, who’s with you? Um, my, my Bali boo over here.
here. Yeah, hi, hi. She’s the one who came up with this crazy idea. I just signed up. To be fair, I didn’t realize it was crazy. It said that we were going on a, like, not… Touristy hike, and I didn’t know that meant there would be two of us on the entire mountain. It was me, Marley, and the guide, and that was it.
Until we got about 90 percent of the way out. There’s me, Marley,
and an axe murderer. Basically.
Wait, I wanted to know if there’s monkeys. There were no monkeys. There were dogs. And a really scary frog. So they give us a headlamp, and we just start hiking up this mountain, and it’s pretty much like… Straight up.
Like, there was no switchbacks if you’re a hiker, it was just like, we are just going right up the side of this mountain. Then we get about 90 percent of the way up, and we notice there is a village at the top of the mountain. With a Starbucks.
Starbucks, but we get up there, and our guide just like shouts to some random house.
That we’re here, and then like all of a sudden a grandma like walks up to the top of this mountain And it’s just the two of us and brings us this whole like Breakfast and coffee and we’re the only two people at the top of this mountain at sunrise. It was magical and that was just the beginning of the day.
It was like 6 a. m. And we’re like we are living our best Bali life. This is my first day in Bali. First day, best day. It was your first like four hours in Bali. And so the guide had like all the patients in the world, took about a thousand pictures of us and And Marley apparently likes to take jumping photos, where you jump up in the air and like do a sign.
I look ridiculous, she looked great, but in the end of the day, the guy was there for every, every moment. Then we went down the mountain, get back in the boat. And, we did skip one thing. There was, uh, this, there’s this one, um, tribe that you can kind of go see, which apparently, I, I saw the photos online, I was like, you know, I think I’ll pass.
They like to, instead of burying their dead, they really honor their dead, and they just, Just take them and kind of lay them in a cemetery and put a blanket over it and let it kind of decompose naturally. And so the online pictures was just a bunch of skulls. And I was like, you know, I don’t think I want to go to that one.
They’re like, are you sure?
I don’t need to visit the
skulls. I’ll pass. But because we didn’t go to the skulls, we were able to go to this beautiful, like water temple. And I’m like, this is way better than the skulls. Yeah, we’re we’re well, we don’t really know he’s like we’re gonna take you to a water temple But then we like go around this little bend and we see this massive Statue that’s like the goddess of prosperity Just in the middle of nowhere, like, there’s this giant statue, and this temple that was like, it was not, there were no tourists anywhere to be seen, and there was a ceremony happening, and he asked the wise men if we could come in, and there was He really did have to ask the three wise men, and they said yes!
So, we got to be the only tourists inside of this beautiful water temple. And then, if it couldn’t get any better than that, There were cupcakes! The next thing was like, then we’re gonna go to a hot spring. And we’re both thinking, we’re gonna walk through some jungle y woods, and there’s gonna be like a hole in the ground.
and maybe some hot, warm water. And then we end up in like the Disneyland of hot springs. It was like, we walked in and they asked, do you want to put any money on your wristband? And we’re like, no, it’s a hole in the ground. We’re going to snap a picture, say, yay, we came, and then go home. And then they proceed to walk us past like six pools, infinity pools.
There’s a mountain in the background. There’s like… Swim up bars. They can give you your lunch on a floating table and then me and Marley look at each other and go Let’s hurry up and put some money on so we can get some drinks or something. We stayed there for like two and a half hours That’s incredible.
It was an amazing day. Yeah. Yeah. Epic. Epic. First
day in Bali. That’s incredible. Thank you so much for telling us the story. You bet.
I feel like I needed to be saying, but wait,
there’s more. But wait. Yes.
All right. Somebody else have one? We need one more. One more. Amy, you got one? Yes. It’s great, by the way, having the hostess with the mostest end. A big hand for Amy, by the way.
Amy, I know, because you and I have been talking about this since March, and I know you’ve been working on it well before you and I spoke, but the amount of work that came into bringing us together, I’m surprised you have hair left. Barely. Yes. But congratulations on such a great job.
Thank you. I love it. I mean, I, I love Bali.
And so it is such an honor to have people spend their time and money coming halfway across the world to see this place that I love, and I love showcasing it.
And you have, definitely. Hasn’t she?
You certainly have. One thing we said before we hear your story to end the show, Amy, is that the Balinese people are just so incredible. Everybody’s nice, and I think it was, uh, Kevin and I, who’s here, that we’re talking about, like, Every society has at least one person who’s just a d k, right? But we haven’t found him yet.
Like, has anybody seen that person? Like, I feel like there’s this guy, Todd, locked in the back room, and they’re like, wait till they leave, and then you can come out. But, but, there’s, everybody’s so nice,
Amy. Yeah, I know, people are incredible here, and that’s what I found. I mean, I’ve lived in Asia since 2001, and I’ve lived in a lot of amazing places, but when I came here, and I came here a lot as a tourist, Bestest over the years.
But when I actually lived here for a while and got to really sink into the culture and spend more time with them and develop deeper relationships, I loved the Balinese people. They, they had, they moved me so much with their ceremony, with their culture and their community, their commitment to family and, and their tribe, their Banjar.
They’re beautiful people. They really think a lot about. each other. So it’s, it’s beautiful. Yeah. I’m so
inspired by that. It’s fantastic. So, all right, let’s end the episode with another monkey story. Does this one have a Monica esque ending?
It has, um, yes, it does. Not a bite, though. Okay. Um, this is 2009, so this is a previous trip to Bali when I was living in Singapore.
I was with my mom, and back in 2009, at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, they used to sell bananas. Yes, they used to sell, there would be people on the street that you could buy bananas. And somehow I know that this isn’t a smart idea. I know this isn’t a smart idea, but you know, the guy who was holding bananas, the monkeys weren’t near him.
So it seems like it might be a good photo opportunity. I know it’s so dumb. I bought the bananas. The guy hands me the bananas. I had three monkeys run up my body. I had a monkey on my head. I had a monkey hanging on the front of my body. And I had a monkey on my back, literally. And then, and I was panicking, so I was yelling.
Why would that make you panic? Yeah,
I don’t know. And because I’m in such a panic state, I’m like, ah, ah, ah. And my mother, she’s got the picture. She’s ready to take a picture of me. She’s laughing. She just wants to take
a picture. It’s like, I love these things when you see people like getting gorbed by a buffalo at Yellowstone.
And somebody’s like, check this out. Anyway, I’m
sorry. So, yeah, finally, you know, in that moment of panic, I threw the bananas. But I felt this warm, wet sensation down my
back. Yeah, I felt this warm, yeah. We’re back to the potty story. Yes we are. They say it brings good luck maybe, but it didn’t feel that way to me. And it wasn’t your chakras alighting. It wasn’t
my chakras alighting. It wasn’t your chakras alighting. No, from, from, oh. Yeah. Was your hotel close by?
Yes, it was.
Good. Yeah, but don’t buy the bananas. Dumb. Yeah, obviously,
obviously. Pro tip. Yeah, so this is what we’ve learned today. Don’t buy the bananas, get a van with a toilet in it and make sure that you Raby shots. Raby shots. Raby shots. Yes. This has been a productive episode, Becky. Absolutely. Yes. Where else could you get this?
I know, right? Amy, thank you so much. Thanks for having me. Thank you. All right, everybody. That’s gonna do it from Bali. Thank you to all of you for coming out and hanging out with us. Doug, you’ve got it from here, man. What should we have learned today? So, what should we have learned today? First, take some advice from Annie.
Looking to try something new? Van life might be just the thing for you. Or, you know, El Camino life. Tomato, tomato. Second, take some inspiration from Tanya. You can retire, even if you stumble into it in a non traditional way. But the big lesson… If you go into a Balinese restaurant, you should try out these hilarious food puns that are just a total hit with the locals.
They love them. Check this one out. Don’t be so tempi mental, just chill out and enjoy some soybean cake. Isn’t that awesome? Oh my god, gather the kids around. Uh, they’re gonna love this one. You’re a real pissang garang. You always fry my bananas with your humor. I barely got through that one without laughing.
You’re a, how about this, you’re a real nazi garang. You always spice up my life with your fried rice. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t, I cannot do it anymore. It’s just, my sides are hurting.
Thanks to all of our guests for joining us today. How
about a big hand for everyone who shared a Bali travel story during our Backcourt for totally saving Joe today. You’ll find Becky’s podcast at Catching up to five wherever
finer podcasts are distributed. I’m Joe’s mom’s neighbor, Doug, saying we’ll see you next time back here at the Stacking Benjamins show. Or, as the locals say, terima kasih. Uh, that means thank you in Indonesian.