The Blogger Couple Who Made $20Okay Mid-Pandemic
Welcome to Couples + money, where we cross the boundaries of polite conversation. Forget questions about your sex life. We get even more personal. Let’s talk about what you do and not your partner – with your salaries.
Every second Thursday, a couple will be honest with Marie Claire about how they split their finances. We will analyze what each person pays separately, what separates and all the dirty details – from who gets the bill in restaurants to who gets battles for banking statements.
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This week, we’re talking to Nadia and Microphone, both 30, who founded a travel and romantic couple blog called Couple Travel the World. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, they built a whole $ 60,600 per year ($ 5,050 per month)and now, because of the impact associated with COVID, do $ 1,030 per month from the blog. They have been together for 13 years and live in Atlanta, GA.
How it all happened
Nadia: Mike and I met at a high school dance when we were 14 years old. My friend dared me to ask the most attractive man in the room to dance, so I left the room until I saw Mike.
Microphone: We did not actually start dating at this point. We did not listen to each other for a few years until we started talking casually when we were 17.
Nadia: We agreed to meet and the rest is history. We have been stuck on the hip ever since and decided to study law and marketing at university. We were so attached that some of our classmates started calling us “Couple”, a nickname that would later be part of the name of our travel blog.
Microphone: We both always had a huge passion for travel. One of the reasons we stayed so long is our mutual interest in traveling the world. At university, we invested part-time salaries in blue chip stock in the stock market, investing when stocks were low and selling when stocks were high. We made good money because we invested our savings during the global financial crisis of 2008, when stocks were low.
Nadia: In 2013, we both started working in law firms, but we quickly got tired of the daily grind. I remember a lawyer once telling me that lawyers are caged rats, and that is 100 percent true – you are locked in your office every day for hours. We decided to study for a master’s degree in Copenhagen in 2015, but due to the lack of housing, we traveled the world instead and completed the masters effectively. That’s when our lives as digital nomads and our travel blog began.
Microphone: At first, we liked that our blog gave us access to free hotels and products, but we knew we wanted to achieve more financial freedom. Only in the second year, we managed to live outside our blog and spend our days traveling the world. We live without permanent residence and full-time travel for five years, until COVID-19 stops our travel. We are currently traveling with a refurbished campervan.
How COVID-19 affected us
Nadia: Before the success of COVID-19, we explored America. In addition to the activities, one of our biggest expenses was our virtual office – Starbucks! It’s a great place for digital nomads to work for a few hours, as there is a Starbucks every 20 minutes across America.
Microphone: Since we have about $ 1,000 in reserve each month for savings (after tax), we would save it. For many years since 2008, we have rarely bought stocks and kept our money waiting for a suitable time to enter the market.
Nadia: The stock market goes into a 7-year cycle, so generally, every 7 years it will fall to another low.
Microphone: When we go investing in anything, we always talk to each other.
Microphone: After COVID-19, our blog reached $ 5,050 per month to $ 1,030. Our advertising revenue has dropped by 33% as no one travels and advertisers do not spend money.
Nadia: Before the pandemic, we had signed an ironclad contract with a Fortune 500 company, which pays us a regular interest rate per month to complete the work. They withdrew the contract from us with a one day notice, with the project already completed for this month. Our expenses also increased as we needed to stay on an Airbnb.
Nadia: We managed to use our savings to cover not only our increased expenses, but also to make smart investment decisions.
Microphone: The entire stock market fell by 30 percent and some stocks over 70 percent; We knew this was the opportunity we were looking to buy. So far, we have increased our portfolio by $ 20,000 investing during this period.
Nadia: One stock we invested in was Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCLH) at $ 8. Many people probably think we are crazy about investing in a cruise, but we thought that at $ 8 the stock plummeted en masse. They traded over $ 50 just two months ago. Since then, we have sold and made a profit on this share. The price is now $ 10, but we sold part of our stock a few weeks ago when the stock price reached $ 16.
Microphone: We also bought stock on other cruises like Carnival (CCL) (we bought $ 9, now $ 14). Another is Nvidia (NVDA), which makes computer processors popular with gamers (they bought $ 220, now $ 350) because we thought they could create even more closed-source, home-based businesses. We diversify our risk by buying small positions (just $ 1,000) in many different companies and industries.
Nadia: At the moment we do not have dependents and we are not in a hurry to have children soon. While we believe we will have children one day, we wanted to spend time while we were young having fun.
When we tell each other our salaries
Microphone: As we grew up together, none of us had money from the beginning. We should never have had the “salary debate”.
Nadia: Dating from such a young age meant that we always had full access to each other’s accounts. We always treated our money as mutual. However, we never opened a shared bank account because it is nice to have different accounts to store different things.
How we handle the cost of living
Nadia: Our cost of living is not a house with a mortgage, but hotels and Airbnbs.
Microphone: One misconception about traveling the world is that you need a lot of money. What we have found is that if you understand, you can really do it with a very limited, regular salary.
[Editor’s note: Nadia and Mike did not disclose their average cost of living, including average cost of Airbnb stays, gas, or permit fees.]
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How often do we talk about money?
Microphone: Before COVID-19, it was necessary to talk about money on a daily basis – so we determined which hotels we would stay in, what food we could buy and much more.
Nadia: We are always on the same page for the money. We are quite austere people, so we spend only what we need. We re-invest whatever money we do not need. Most people want to invest in a home, but we feel more comfortable investing in the stock market. While we wait for a good opportunity, we keep cash or time deposits.
What we keep secret
Nadia: We do not keep anything secret, at least on purpose. Sometimes Mike does a stock exchange that he forgets to tell me and I see the notice appear in our emails, but other than that, nothing.
How we learned the budget
Nadia: My parents were always very good with money. Although I grew up in a comfortable middle class family, my mother was very understanding and I learned the importance of saving money from her. She would base her family meals on what she was selling at the supermarket that week and would not buy clothes until they started selling. My dad was addicted to the stock market, so I learned a lot to invest from him. I noticed that my friends did not trade stocks because they were not comfortable with this type of investment. However, if you know when to buy and sell and invest in blue stock stocks, it can be a great choice.
Microphone: My family was also very poor with money, especially with dinner. He used to cook low cost meal options like potatoes and lentil soup to save money and would call in many vendors to find the best price for Christmas vacation rentals.
Nadia: Because we both came from money-conscious families, we rarely fight for money because we are completely on the same page to keep money to the best of our ability.
How do we pay for non-essentials
Microphone: Sometimes things show up. We like to keep our income higher than our expenses and keep money in the bank for a rainy day. I was driving near Atlanta recently and our tire suddenly shattered into nothing. It cost us $ 100 for a new tire, which was not at all in our usual budget. Fortunately, we managed to get it out of the savings.
What we finance
Microphone: We still believe in our travel blog and its ability to make money. We believe that one day in the future, travel will recover and so will income.
Nadia: While some of our blogger friends are abandoning their travel blogs, we are doubling down. Based on the same philosophy as stocks, we believe that is the time when you can really make a difference. While others bury their heads in the sand, we draw articles in the hope of redeeming this work (hopefully) in the not too distant future!
The interviews were summarized and edited for the sake of clarity. Reporting and editing by Katherine J. Igoe. Designed by Morgan McMullen.
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