“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”
— RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Hello and welcome!
I’m Richard Meadows, a journalist and author of the ‘Budget Buster’ money column for Fairfax Media. After saving $100,000 by age 25, I quit my fulltime job, sold everything I owned, and moved to Asia to live out of a backpack. Deep Dish is where I document my experiments in frugality and simple living.
Check out the Start Here page for an overview of the blog. If you want to know a bit more about me, here’s a potted history of the story so far…
Penniless to six figures
I worked as a full-time business reporter for almost five years. My immersion in the world of money included run-ins with billionaires, criminals, traders, entrepreneurs, interrogators, polymaths and paupers, all of whom taught me something.
It didn’t take long to realise most mainstream money advice was too feeble to produce anything more than mediocre results.
After making a raft of systematic lifestyle changes, I managed to save half of my income. I built a spreadsheet to measure and track my progress every month. In three and half years, I went from being penniless to building a net worth of $100,000.
With a flood of savings pouring in, I started learning the basics of investing. It took a few hard lessons – I lost $10,000 trying to pick hot stocks – but a conversation with a billionaire hedge fund manager eventually won me over to the sweet serenity of passive investment in low-cost index funds.
Hitting the six figures target was the trigger to quit my job and take a mini-retirement. I wanted to see the world, free up some time to tackle the various projects swirling around my head, and relax a little from the strictures of the business world…
I got rid of all my worldly possessions, and packed the few things that remained into a 22L day pack. Ultralight travel turned out to be awesome, and forced me to scrutinise every new possession that came into my life (here’s my packing list).
I’ve hiked 150km across the Himalayas in flip-flops, worked my way through the loneliness and ennui that comes with solo travel, been walloped over the head with my own privilege, and learned all sorts of perspective-shifting life lessons.
Naturally, I’ve mastered the art of budget travel. The northern Thai city of Chiang Mai is insanely cheap – we’re talking $500 a month for everything – and has become my home-away-from-home. There’s a whole community of entrepreneurs and ‘digital nomads’ who earn western dollars, while living in places with a dirt-cheap cost-of-living. Having lived the real-life four hour work-week for awhile, I think this is an excellent strategy (as long as you don’t fall into the starving artist trap).
My debut blog post, How to Save $100,000 by age 25, was the first time I’d stripped down to my financial underwear in public. It became the most popular thing I’ve ever written, in terms of the influx of messages from friends and total strangers, as well as having my face splashed all over MSN, CNBC, The Daily Mail, Now This, and various other news outlets. Blogging has since taught me all sorts of interesting lessons, and I’ve committed to publishing a new post
every fortnight at least once a month.
I also write about my money and travel experiments for the likes of VICE, the Sunday-Star Times, and other publications, and dabble in the occasional bit of copywriting (let me know if you need a blog post/ wedding speech/elaborate note to get out of gym class).
Before I left New Zealand, I got in the best shape of my life by eating 222 large pizzas in 222 days (and somehow ended up doing a nude magazine cover-shoot).
It’s hard to fit an Olympic barbell in the overhead locker of a plane, so I’ve switched from weightlifting to experimenting with calisthenics, which is free, requires no equipment, and turns the whole world into your gym.
My other main focus is trying to become more productive through routines and goal-setting, cutting out the rot of mindless TV watching and addictive social media, and reading more books (take the 100 books challenge with me).
I’ve got a couple of other experiments underway, and a long list of ideas that I’m excited to try out soon.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
— MARK TWAIN
I’m convinced that the best things in life really are free, and that frugality is the single greatest habit anyone can cultivate. I don’t know of a better tool for opening up your options in life, not to mention the sheer feeling of liberation that comes with having ‘fuck you’ money.
I’ve traded off having fancy possessions and career stability to pursue the things I’m passionate about. Other people prefer to make a different trade-off, and that’s fine.
I created Deep Dish as a place to document my lifestyle experiments, and collate some of my best published work. While it’s mostly for my own enjoyment, I figured other people might get something out of it too.
All I know for sure is that taking a few small steps off the beaten path has completely changed the trajectory of my life.
Maybe it can do the same for you!