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I am sat in a WeWork in Bogota, Colombia overlooking the city.  Coffee in hand and wondering “am I really in Colombia?” is this really happening?

It has been nearly 5 months since our last Donegan update.  Katie and I had just made it out of the cold, lockdown of East Germany and to the bright sunshine of Mexico.

Since last time we celebrate 8 years married, ran Rebel Finance School for 400 people and helped launch Rebel Business School in Colombia!  So much has happened.

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Created by Miss Jaymie Dylan
This is a post about the Donegans and what they have been up to.  There will be ideas and inspiration but this post is mostly about us!  I always feel a little weird writing about us as most of my articles focus on giving value to you but I think you might still have fun……..

Where the hell have the Donegan’s’ been?

We obviously need a chart for this and Katie got so excited that she create a map chart of everywhere we have been this year!  You can see the percentage of the year spent in each destination. Too geeky for you?

52% of the year so far spent in Mexico and a huge number of Tacos, Tlayudas and Mole eaten

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Puerto Vallarta

After leaving cold, stark East Germany; the contrast of the Mexico sunshine and blue skies was incredible.  After arriving we met a Mexican lady lamenting the lock down and quarantine.  She said “this lock down is dreadful; restaurants are closing at 10pm!”

We laughed as restaurants had been closed entirely for three months at that stage in Germany.  No shops, no restaurants and very cold.

Puerto Vallarta Highlights:

  1. Our place on the beach was incredible.  3 pools, two of them infinity, a hot tub and rolling onto the beach!  Going for a run along the beach every day and then out for coffee in a cute café might just be my best life
  2. Digital Nomads: We joined the Digital Nomads group on Facebook and made friends instantly.  We gave our first real life talk in over a year for 30 people on Financial Independence for Digital Nomads whilst in town.
  3. The prices were fabulous.  Geo-arbitrage is the art of earning in a high value currency like Pound Sterling or Dollars and then spending in a low value currency like Mexican Pesos.  Everything felt so cheap after Germany!

If you ever get the chance to go to Puerto Vallarta; take it.  It is such a beautiful town laid along the beach.  The Zona Romantica has cool cobbled streets and amazing restaurants stretched along the sand.

We stayed in 171 Harbor which is a apartment block in the hotel zone north along the coast.  We loved our time here and I would go back in a heart beat

It was sat overlooking the ocean as we did burpees to try and counter act the tacos that Katie came up with the name for Rebel Finance School.  We created the pages and set everything up whilst in PV. Here are some shots of our place and our time in Mexico!

Oaxaca

We chose Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca province for our next destination because of the food and  the mountains.  We thought it would be cooler than the beach but by the time we got there in April it was HOT HOT HOT! We nearly couldn’t take it.

Oaxaca is a beautiful Spanish colonial town in the mountains of southern Mexico and it is famous for Mole.  Mole is a rich dark sauce normally including chocolate and then served over chicken or something savoury!

Our time in Oaxaca was spent going to cool cafes like Chepiche and Boluenc.  I ate too many almond croissants and we had fun working on the Rebel Finance School which was about half way through at this point!

With the heat we would go out walking in the morning, have an amazing breakfast out and then hide from the heat in the afternoon until it cooled down.  it didn’t cool down until around 7pm which was crazy!

Rebel Finance School

We just recently wrapped up the second version of the Rebel Finance School which is a ten week long online course we run live.  We cover everything from getting out of debt, measuring your net-worth to how what you believe about finances affects your outcomes!

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Running that was a HUGE amount of work but so rewarding.  With over 400 people following along and working on improving their financial situation! We will run another one but probably not for sometime!  If you want to find out when the next one is join the mailing list.

The Mobile Commune

One of the hardest things to build is community.  People around you that lift you up, that challenge you, that you laugh with and have fun with.  Travelling around the world it is hard for Katie and I to find community.

Have you heard of the concept that you become the sum of the five people closest to you in life?  These are the people that have the most impact on your mindset, beliefs and mental well being.

With our friends Kristy and Bryce in 2019 we came up with the idea of a mobile commune.  Getting together a group of interesting people to hang out with somewhere in the world.  At the beginning of 2020 we did our first experiment in Thailand where we hung out with them and a few other friends.  It was incredible so we wanted to do more.

In October 2020 we did our second mini-experiment and invited 4 other couples to spend a week with us in an incredible Portuguese villa overlooking the Duoro Valley.  It was an amazing week of deep conversations and thinking that I facilitated.  It was intense and incredible but not sustainable.

In 2021 we were REALLY missing people after the lockdowns and pandemic so decided to have another go with a mobile commune.

We sent out some emails to some friends and invited them to come and stay with us in Oaxaca in Southern Mexico.  I really wanted to put it on the blog and just see who turned up but felt nervous doing that as the pandemic was still raging and it felt irresponsible.    I will do that at some point in the future so watch out for an open invite to come and hang out…….

To Katie’s and my surprise people started replying positively.  People were saying they had been vaccinated and wanted to come hang out.  I think they were feeling the same thing we were feeling after a long time on lock down!

In the end over 20 people turned up; at different times; in Oaxaca and hung out with us for incredible breakfasts and deep conversations.  We had so much fun.

What did we learn?
Putting something on like this is always going to be a challenge with it’s ups and downs and we learnt a lot along the way.  Here are some of our thoughts:

  1. Expectations are important.  Even though we had set expectations of hanging out, chatting and connecting some people turned up with different expectations and wanted to party and drink all day long.  These different expectations caused me too feel uncomfortable for a few weeks and caused a divide within the group.
  2. People lift you up.  If you can bring together the right group of people you will spend your time having incredible chats, connecting and learning together.  Thank you to all the amazing people that came and hung out with us.  You enriched our lives and we loved chatting to you.
  3. Environment matters.  It was hot hot hot in Oaxaca and that made it more difficult, in the afternoons it was hot and sweaty and that led to people wanting to be inside in air conditioning or having a siesta.  The temperature cramped our style and made it more difficult for us to connect with the people that came to hang out.

Overall it was a huge success but I think I would do it very differently next time!

Bogota, Colombia

Next we jetted off to Bogota Colombia to meet Alfredo, Fabi and Dani the three Colombians working to establish Rebel Business School in Colombia.

Apart from some minor drama with Katie’s mobile being stolen we had a fabulous time.  Colombia was not what we expected.  The capital Bogota is nestled in the Andes mountains and this brings a forever spring climate, cool and breezy but with some strong sun at altitude.

As with any major city there are areas of extreme poverty and a massive contract between the wealthy and the poor.  We lived in the north of the city in Chico Norte which is a lovely neighbourhood.

If you are a long time reader then you know my favourite meal of the day is breakfast and WOW there were some world class cafes.  Katie and I used to walk to Masa each day for breakfast, Katie did calisthenics training in the park each day and we had great fun creating and working together

Look out for a podcast soon about brining Rebel to Colombia and for our second event in Spanish.  I still can’t believe that the start up methodology that Simon and I created is now taught in English, French, Arabic and Spanish!

Seattle

After 5 weeks in Bogota we flew to Seattle.  Talk about a sharp contrast and reverse example of geo-arbitrage.  The 5 weeks in a swanky new Airbnb in Bogota was a similar price to five days in a hotel in central Seattle!

I have fallen in love with Seattle though.  We arrived in the summer when the weather was perfect.  We walked the bay, ate at amazing restaurants and met incredible people.  Katie and I run a financial retreat called Chautauqua and have met lots of people from around the world and it turns out quite a few of them live in Seattle.

One of the highlights of the trip was meeting Zev Siegl and his amazing wife Robin.  Zev is one of the co-founders of Starbucks and he came on the Rebel Entrepreneur podcast a few months ago.

​I was so inspired by Zev’s energy and endless enthusiasm as he showed us around the bay and we hung out chatting about entrepreneurship and business.  If you haven’t heard it yet then listen to Zev’s story on the podcast all about starting Starbucks from nothing and his thoughts on entrepreneurship.  Katie and I realised a few years ago that travel is all about the PEOPLE!  And boy where we lucky to meet some incredible people in Seattle.

A question for you: now the world is relaxing a little bit from the pandemic; who would you like to meet in 2021?  Who would you like to hang out with for breakfast or coffee?

Zev Siegl (Co-founder of Starbucks) and Alan Donegan (Rebel Entrepreneur)

Zev and Alan talking entrepreneurship.

Spending  – where did all the money go?

Those of you who came on the Rebel Finance School; you know we are numbers geeks and Katie loves nothing better than a good graph!  Well we have been looking at how much we have spend in different places as we travel and the cost of different cities.

7 months into the year and where has all our money gone?  The data is from when we left Germany till the end of July.  It’s chart time!

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62 % of the year was spend in Mexico and 62% of our money was spent there too!  Puerto Vallarta was more expensive in general than southern Mexico and we stayed in a posh apartment on the beach!

Bogota was 20% of our nights and only 15% of our spending!  It is super inexpensive there and such good quality food.  If we moved here for more of the year we could massively reduce our expenses and increase our life style!  Next recession we’ll meet you in Bogota until the market recovers!

If you want to live on £40,000 a year you have £109 a day to live on.  Katie and I always find it interesting to see how close or far away we are from these figures!

Cost per day:

  • Puerto Vallarta £107  ($148)
  • Oaxaca £95  ($131)
  • Bogota £78  ($108)
  • Texas £127  ($176)
  • Seattle £197  ($273)
  • Tulsa £86  ($119)

Overall our daily cost in Mexico was £102 a day, Colombia £78 and the USA was £129.

The biggest difference here was that we stayed with friends in Texas and Tulsa so those costs are lower than they should be because we didn’t pay for accommodation!

In Seattle we paid for City Centre accommodation and had a rental car to go to the wedding and you can see that it was nearly £200 a day!  We would go bankrupt very quickly if we moved to Seattle and lived like this!

The way we balance out costs like Seattle is by going to live in lower cost of living areas like Bogota.  In Bogota we lived in a gorgeous new apartment we paid for, we ate out in the loveliest restaurants each day (it was cheaper than cooking in!).

It is amazing how much the area’s cost of living affects your spending per day!

We are planning some more on global spending and how much it costs to be nomadic around the world in the coming months!  Stay tuned for more.

Our plans for the next few months

As I finish this article I am now sat in Seattle Airport and about to head for Colorado.  I am so excited about what is going to come next!  Encase we are coming to your area and you want to hang out for a coffee or breakfast here are our plans (roughly!)

  1. Three weeks in Longmont Colorado hanging out with Mr Money Mustache and Mr1500 at their global Mustachianism headquarters
  2. Katie and I will be running our first live event for nearly a year and a half.  It is entitled “The extraordinary weekend” and will be at the MMM headquarters!  You can see the details here.
  3. Maybe a trip to Montreal and Toronto in Canada if the Canadians let us in
  4. Tulsa, Oklahoma to see our friends for their wedding, 25th of September
  5. Richmond, Virginia to see Brad and Jonathan of ChooseFI
  6. Florida and probably a Disney visit.  I am a big kid and never want to grow up!

If you happen to be in any of those places and want to hang out for a coffee or catch up let us know!

Final thoughts and ideas

Throughout the month I journal and think as weird and wonderful things happen to us and I wanted to share some of the things we have learnt and thought about.

  • Ask for what you want.  We are so used to supressing our desires and putting other people first that we need to take time to listen to ourselves and our inner wisdom.  If you are ever feeling lost, wondering what direction to move in, then take a moment to close your eyes, breath and listen to what you want to do.
  • Catching “should“.  So often I hear things like “I should do X”  or “we should really ………”  Should comes from a place of what we think the right answer is according to other people, society or previous programming.  It is rarely what we actually want to do.  I ask you to stop shoulding all over yourself.  If you hear yourself say the word should, pause and take a second to ask “where is the should coming from and what do I actually want to do?”
  • Be persistent.  If you read the story about Katie’s mobile phone being stolen then you already get this one.  You rarely get what you want in life first time of asking and persistence is quite often the key to progress.  Don’t ask once, ask 7 times nicely!
  • Look for what is right.  In any given moment what is right is available to you and what is wrong is available to you.  Take a moment right now to think about everything that is wrong;  did you find anything?  Shake it off and now take a moment to think about everything that is right for you; did you find anything?  In any given moment you have access to both, you get to decide where you put your focus.  For a quick hack to increase happiness take a moment every now and again to look for what is right in your life.  I guarantee if you do this you will feel a little bit happier.

Tell me what you want more of……..

That’s it for now.  Katie and I are planning some cool articles on ESG funds and geo-arbitrage and so much more! We write the blog for you to provide value and inspiration.

If you have ideas for what you want use to write about, guests for the podcast or just want to say hi then please send us an email or write a comment!

Sending love and happiness from Seattle to you all!

​Alan

PS the really cool anniversary picture above was created by Miss Jaymie Dylan for our anniversary!  If you haven’t heard her coaching series on the podcast go listen to that now!

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