Careers: Systems Analyst, HR Systems Consultant, Content Creator, and Family/Sustainable Travel Influencer, at It’s a Family Thing
salary: $100,000 to $250,000, depending on contracts and jobs
Goal: Build enough wealth to retire at 45 and focus on your brand(s) online
Coretta Lewis She lives the ZIP code life, and travels full time with her family around the world.
The nomadic family of three—Louis has a wife and a 3-year-old son—lived on the beaches of Mexico, kicked her off in Colombia, and brought her back to Legoland, California. At any given time, they are on a flight, road trip, or tour bus to their next adventure.
While traveling, Lewis loves giving young girls sustainable menstrual products in the communities they visit. They are the ultimate passport players, as evidenced by their brand, it’s a family thing, chronicling their travels in real time.
“We try to drive diversity in travel, get people to travel sustainably, and think about the people and places they travel to,” the travel influencer said.
The 32-year-old systems analyst and HR systems consultant had to cut her expenses and reduce her debt to get ready for living the digital nomad lifestyle. Unlike many who joined the military before college to help pay tuition, Lewis joined the Army Reserve at age 22 after college once she realized that the roughly $30,000 she took in student loans quickly ballooned to $50,000 due to accumulating interest.
She worked her day job to get through debt, drove an Uber, and benefited from student loan payment assistance in the military. The loans were paid weekly.
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“I wanted them off my back,” Lewis said.
After paying off student loans, she bought a house in 2016 in a San Diego suburb for $290,000 and sold it about two years later for $360,000.
After Louis gave birth to her son in 2018, she juggled office work and motherhood, and accelerated her decision to travel full time.
“I want to be able to see my son,” she said.
To prepare for their new life of full-time travel, Louis and her wife sold their car, used the Facebook Marketplace to buy baby necessities, and opted for cloth diapers. “We decided to take the lead,” Lewis said, with their finances in order. The plan was to travel all over the world after visiting with family.
Lewis tried to quit her job, but her boss suggested she work remotely. Luis and her family planned to head to Costa Rica for two months. However, while visiting her sister in Colorado in 2020, they stayed there for four months due to Covid. Then the family drifted to Ohio, where she grew up.
Eventually, Luis’ position in her company was eliminated, and the family moved to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. “It was a better cost of living and allowed us to define our next plan,” she said.
In Mexico, the family lived on $1,000 a month, and they paid $400 a month for rent. Her son’s school was between $120 and $130 a month, depending on the exchange rate. Lewis also found a new remote job while he was there. However, after living in Mexico for 15 months, the family moved to Colombia in 2021, and lived there for 2.5 months.
Lewis currently earns anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 a year, of which she saves half. She also has a maximum of 401K and Roth IRAs. Her goal is to build enough wealth to retire by the age of 45 and focus on building the family’s own online brands, which she hopes will generate enough income for them to live on.
Renora Nelsondirector of wealth at Merit Financial Advisors, in Alpharetta, Georgia, says Lewis can retire at age 45.
“She will really get there on her own by saving, but she will need additional resources because she has a high income.”
Nelson recommends that Lewis add a tax advisor to her team to help her with tax planning because she will have a large amount of assets.
Nelson also advises that in addition to taxes, Lewis should focus on estate planning, cash flow, and risk management when building wealth.
Nelson said Lewis should work with a professional and assess her current situation, suggesting that the travel blogger complete a cash flow statement and balance sheet detailing total income, taxes paid and whether her savings are tax-deferred.
“Someone like her needs a financial plan and a roadmap to reach her goals,” Nelson said.
Related: Take care of your money: this family’s expert advice on how to budget for a home
Gisele Ugartean online performance coach and founder of Offline Talent says that longevity is a possibility for influencers like Lewis, but they need to follow three steps:
- Don’t just rely on the brand or platform for monetization. Think about things like consulting, courses, training, or finding ways to generate revenue from advertising on its own platform, as opposed to YouTube or Instagram, where advertising belongs to them.
- Look for revenue streams that don’t take their face or DNA to generate. The trap that is easy to fall into is to associate your face with everything because that is usually the source of the supposed effect. However, finding or creating services, education, or products that can be delegated, duplicated, automated, and/or have nothing to do with the number of followers or views, such as digital products or even real estate investments.
- Pay yourself as an employee. A huge mistake many influencers make, including myself at first, is thinking that making more money will solve all your problems – but it’s really about how to keep it and invest in the future. For example, instead of getting a big check and taking a percentage of it each time, pay yourself a set amount each month or give yourself an annual stipend to create a rainy day fund. Then you can start investing and, of course, create this retirement fund.
Natalie B. McNeill is the author of a book The Frugalista Files: How a Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Great Life.