Saint Augustine, a revered Christian theologian and philosopher, once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” True to his words, my recent expedition to New Zealand was more than just a trip; it was an eye-opening adventure that helped me gain a deeper understanding of financial freedom and retirement planning.

In this blog post, I’d like to share three profound lessons from my trip that I believe could guide you in achieving your financial and retirement goals.

Lesson 1: Financial Freedom is More Than Just Money

Financial freedom is usually associated with piles of money that allow for a comfortable life. However, it goes beyond that. It’s about having the time to enjoy what you love and the people who matter to you.

In New Zealand, I experienced a more relaxed pace of life. Most workplaces operate from 10 am to 4 pm, with less of a rush compared to the constant hustle we’re used to. The locals took the time to chat, take interest in our journey, and share stories about their beautiful town.

During the Glacier Explorer tour, when I was holding a 600-year-old piece of ice, I noticed our guide’s excitement mirrored ours. This made me realize that financial freedom is not just about a hustling job. It’s also about having the time to truly live.

Remember, when we slow down, we create time.

Lesson 2: The Juggle of Work and Life, Not the Balance

In the past, I pursued the idea of a perfectly balanced life – a successful career coupled with abundant time for family and hobbies. However, reality struck, and I realized it was not a feasible goal. There will always be times when one takes precedence over the other.

The key is learning to juggle these different aspects of life effectively without dropping any. On my trip, we travelled through long, scenic roads, which are often more than 200 km per day.

I learned to cherish each moment, rather than rushing from one place to another. It wasn’t about balancing, but juggling.

Picture taken near Tasman Glacier

This experience also transformed my view of work during trips. In the past, I tried to disconnect from work completely, only to be overwhelmed upon returning. This time, I decided to balance work with leisure, keeping up with my clients and the investment market without compromising on my vacation.

Lesson 3: Embracing Uncertainty

I used to be a meticulous planner, wanting every detail of my trips chalked out perfectly. Over time, however, I’ve learned to appreciate the charm of unpredictability. For this New Zealand trip, we had booked our flights and accommodations, but the rest was left to chance.

Indeed, there were surprises along the way, but they made the journey more rewarding.

For instance, we missed our stargazing trip, yet we got to witness the magnificent Milky Way right from our accommodation.

When we failed to find an Asian restaurant one evening, we discovered a steamboat at our holiday park, leading to an impromptu feast.

Before embarking on our journey to the Milford Sound cruise, we faced ominous foggy and rainy weather, with a daunting two-hour drive ahead. Despite these challenges, we decided to press on. As fortune would have it, the rain paused just as we began our cruise, providing us with an unexpected yet delightful encounter with dolphins and a chance to witness the ethereal beauty of rainbows.

These experiences reminded me that while we cannot control every aspect of our lives, we can choose how to react. A well-crafted retirement plan and clear investment strategies are essential, but it’s also important to adapt to the curveballs that life throws our way.


Every journey teaches us something, and my New Zealand adventure was no exception. It provided me with valuable insights into financial freedom and retirement planning. However, the most important lesson it taught me was that money is only a part of the equation. True wealth lies in our time, experiences, and the ability to juggle our commitments.

As you embark on your financial journey, remember to take time to cherish each moment, be flexible in your work-life juggle, and embrace life’s beautiful uncertainties. After all, every twist and turn brings us one step closer to our financial freedom adventure. Here’s to making your journey an unforgettable one!

I hope these three lessons have helped you to deepen your understanding of financial freedom and retirement planning. If you’re interested in learning more, I’ll be hosting an online workshop “FIRE Retirement Secret“.

I will be sharing how I achieved my financial freedom through my personal experiences:

  • The hidden secrets of FIRE Retirement
  • How to climb the ladder of financial freedom in 3 stages
  • Why traditional investment strategies fall short for retirement
  • How to navigate market noise and financial crises with 5-step investment framework

If you are serious about FIRE Retirement, you don’t want to miss this.

Click here to sign up for the webinar.

About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}