Mike and Lauren - Medical Tourism, RVs, and Why You Should Question Everything

Mike and Lauren – Medical Tourism, RVs, and Why You Should Question Everything


Today on the Financial Independence Podcast, popular YouTube vloggers Mike and Lauren from mikeandlauren.com stop by to talk about:

  • Why they decided to go to Costa Rica to have a baby
  • Their plans to quit their jobs and travel full-time in an RV
  • How their YouTube channel is helping to fund it all

The thing that impresses me most about them is their ability to come up with exciting, unconventional ideas and then act on them, no matter how crazy they seem.

Hopefully this episode inspires you to step out of the box more and do the same!

Listen Now!

  • Listen on iTunes
  • Stream audio file here
  • Download MP3 by right-clicking here

Highlights

  • The ins and outs of medical tourism
  • Reasons to give birth in another country
  • Benefits of having multiple passports
  • How to obtain dual citizenship
  • Total cost of having a child in Costa Rica
  • The actual income numbers of their popular YouTube channel
  • How to prepare for living permanently in an RV

Show Links

Full Transcript

Mad Fientist: Hey, what’s up, everybody? Welcome to the Mad Fientist Financial Independence Podcast, the podcast where I get inside the brains of some of the best and brightest in the personal finance space to find out how they’re achieving financial independence.

On today’s show, I’m excited to introduce Mike and Lauren from MikeandLauren.tv and MikeandLauren.com. If you’re not familiar with them, they make some amazing videos about personal finance, DIY stuff, general lifestyle. Right now, for instance, they’re down in Costa Rica about to have a baby. And they’re doing this for a number of reasons, all of which are interesting. I’m excited to talk to them about it.

But they also have a lot of other big plans after having a baby. So, they’re planning to buy an RV when they get back to the states and travel around and do a bunch of woodworking with readers and viewers of their YouTube channel and just go around the country really.

They are a very inspiring couple because it seems like they just get an idea and they just do it no matter how crazy it may seem to other people. So, I’m really excited to chat with them about all that.

So, Mike and Lauren, thanks a lot for being here. I appreciate it!

Mike: Thanks for having us!

Lauren: Thanks for having us!

Mad Fientist: Yeah! No, I’m really excited. And for people that don’t know, this is, let’s see, February 4th that we’re recording this. This is probably a few months before it’s released. And you guys are in Costa Rica about to have a baby. Is that right?

Lauren: Yes, we are! We just arrived about three days ago. The baby is not due until March 1st, so we’ve got some time to hang out.

Mad Fientist: Nice! And so what kind of situation do you have down there? You’re staying in like an AirBnB or long-term rental?

Mike: Yeah, yeah. We’re staying in an AirBnB and it’s absolutely wonderful. It’s really cool! I mean, I guess it’s not really the authentic Costa Rican experience, but we’re in what they call “the Beverly Hills of Costa Rica.”

It’s a 2-mansion compound and she’s got eight rooms. It’s a really nice shared space. She’s just been so helpful in our local area. We just love the experience so far.

Mad Fientist: Wow, okay. We’re going to definitely dive into that quite a bit.

Mike: Definitely!

Mad Fientist: It’s very interesting to talking about that. Before we do, if anybody doesn’t know MikeandLauren.tv or MikeandLauren.com, could you just tell a little bit about yourselves and how you got started and making all these great YouTube videos?

Lauren: Oh, sure. We started actually making videos when we went backpacking through Europe three years ago now. We took 2 ½ months off of work and just did whatever we wanted to.

So, when we got back, people kept asking us, “How did you afford this trip?” We afforded it because we always saved money. It was a no-brainer for us.

That snowballed into making financial videos which is definitely Mike’s forte and has been a passion of his for a really long time. It just went from there!

Mike: I would make videos about personal finance on Fridays. And then, every Sunday, we do a DIY project—sometimes together, sometimes by myself depending on what the project is.

Mad Fientist: Nice! And your euro trip videos were amazing. I watched them I think a few months ago. I forget why I was on your site. I was looking for something in particular, but then I saw the Europe things and I was like, “Ooh, I want to watch that.” And then, two hours slipped away or something. I watched the entire series. So, very well done. I’ll link to that in the shownotes so people can check that out.

So, yeah, what were you doing before your big backpack across Europe and how were you able to just take off for 2 ½ months?

Mike: Well, right before that, we lived in New York City. We’ve always, I guess, just sort of been—I don’t know if it’s the adventurist type. It seems like every three or four years, we pick up and do something different. We don’t plan it that way. It just happens to be that timeline.

Right after we got married in 2008, Lauren wanted to go to school for gemology. There are two schools for that. There’s one in New York and one in California. We chose New York. We lived in New York City, in Manhattan for three years. And then, we got back—

Lauren: Back to home to Florida.

Mike: I’m sorry, yeah. Florida was where we are from. And then, we knew we wanted to do that in our lives—do that being backpacking through Europe. We booked the trip without asking our employers for permission. And I guess it goes back to Jim Collin’s FU Money. We have really good relationships—not to say that we were giving the finger to our employers, but we were going to do this either way. We saved a high percentage of our income, we were able to do that.

And it turns out, we’ve looked back at our finances before we were really tracking things and we’ve always saved at least 50% of our income just because we’ve never found a reason to spend any more than that. And that way, we were able to just do as we pleased within reason.

Mad Fientist: That’s really cool. First, what was your favorite place when you were on your trip?

Lauren: That’s a really hard question. I would probably say Berlin though, which is funny because I didn’t really have much interest in going to Germany before we left. It was just uniqued. I loved how young the city was. The history there was really cool!

Mike: They have some really cool Visa immigration policies. I guess they have what’s called a freelance visa. So, if you’re a creative type, if you do blogging or graphic design or something like that, you can actually get—I don’t know. I can’t remember. Again, this was four years ago. There’s 1-year or a 3-year visa. You can actually stay in Germany with a freelance visa. We thought that was so cool.

And the result was that we were in a neighborhood that was really young and really artistic and eclectic. It was just really cool.

Mad Fientist: That’s cool. So that’s your favorite as well?

Mike: Yes, absolutely, yeah.

Mad Fientist: Nice! That’s good to know, by the way, in case I get stuck with a Visa situation in the UK. I can just pop over to Germany for a bit which would be good.

Lauren: Yes.

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Mad Fientist: That’s cool! So what did you guys do job-wise just to give people an idea of what you—I worked at a jewelry store after getting my gemology degree.

Mike: And then, I worked for a church. It was a big church, so I do all the cameras, lights, sounds, all the electronic stuff.

Mad Fientist: Nice, nice. Okay. So, you take your FU Money which is great—great use of it—to go ahead and backpack across Europe no matter what the bosses say. So, what happens when you get back?

Lauren: We actually both went back to our jobs. Our employers were both happy we came back and we fell right back into how things were before we left.

Mad Fientist: Nice! And then, when did you stumble on the whole financial independence scene?

Mike: So, I have been interested in personal finance in general since I was about—I want to say 17. My dates might not match up. Somewhere on 2006 or 2007, maybe it was 2008, I found J.D. Roth’s Get Rich Slowly. I kind of started there.

And then, I found Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme.

Mad Fientist: It’s the same progression that I had. It’s the exact same way. Okay, sorry, guys.

Mike: That was the introduction to that idea. And of course, Jacob being so extreme, we weren’t really interested in that, but the seed was planted. And then, it was Mr. Money Moustache around 2011 or so whenever he came on the scene that showed both normal lifestyle and still saving a high percentage of your income. He kind of introduced us to this idea of financial independence as a realistic goal. And then, we just bumped our savings rate a little bit from 50% to 65% to 70%.

We haven’t quite hit that mark every month, every single month. But so far, we’re kind of on track.

Mad Fientist: That’s amazing. That’s exactly the same progression.

Mike: Yeah, exactly.

Mad Fientist: We probably clicked the same exact links from Get Rich Slowly to get over to Early Retirement Extreme, and then the same one to get over to Mr. Money Moustache, so that’s pretty cool.

Mike: Yeah, that’s funny.

Mad Fientist: So now, you’re in Costa Rica. Obviously, you’re not still working. How did that transition come about?

Lauren: When we found out that we’re pregnant, we’re going to have a baby, we always kind of talked about me leaving my job at that point. So, that was just the natural next step for us. Mike was going to keep working. And then, things just started going from there that we found this whole Costa Rica idea.

We had kind of talked about plans for later this year, 2016, to do a big RV trip. And so that was what made us decide that it might be time for Mike to also leave his job and to kind of see where things go from there.

Mad Fientist: Nice! So, we need to definitely dive into this. So, for people that haven’t watched any of the videos about those—can you just explain what’s happening?

Mike: Brief overview of Costa Rick, actually, how the whole idea came about was while we were in Europe and we were traveling and noticing that while a U.S. passport is a nice thing to have, it’s not viewed very favorably overseas in the sense of immigration and visas.

We noticed people from Canada or Australia could get visas for working in Europe if they wanted to stay longer than three months, which is not reciprocated to U.S. citizens because we don’t have that in the U.S., we don’t offer any temporary visas.

So, that was when the seed was planted. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could give our child dual citizenship, if nothing else, just to have options. We have no plan necessarily for why this is something that we want them to have other than we think it’s a cool adventure and option for him at some point.

We’re having a son. We do know it’s a boy.

Mad Fientist: Congratulations!

Mike: Thank you. So, we wanted to give him options. And so we started looking into countries that allowed dual citizenship. Many do, but many also require that you renounce one or the other when you turn anywhere between 18 and 25. So, for example, Germany was one of our first choices, but they make you choose. In Spain, it’s the same thing.

It kind of left Canada and Costa Rica. There are others, but those are the two most feasible for us. And as we’re doing research, we just found that Costa Rica actually favors medical tourism, whereas Canada made it a little more difficult to get across the border and more difficult to get answers. Whereas in Costa Rica, it was completely a la carte. You just call a hospital, you call the doctor and they give you, “This costs this. This costs this.” And in contrast to the U.S. health system, we just were really, really attracted to that. And so, Costa Rica it was.

And then, we just slowly but surely figured out all the paperwork and immigration and all that kind of stuff that we need to get him both a U.S. passport and a Costa Rican passport. And as far as we can tell, we’re right on track.

Mad Fientist: Nice! So, how difficult is all of that? Are you there on a special type of visa or are you just there as a tourist?

Mike: We are here as tourists. And then, once he’s born, he will automatically get dual citizenship. There’ll be nothing we need to do for him. I guess most of the paperwork was a side benefit of giving birth to a Costa Rican citizen—they call them tikos¬—is that we qualify for permanent residence. And as permanent residents, we can buy property, we can open bank accounts, we get a social security number down here. We can pretty much do everything but vote. So, a lot of the paperwork was for us to get that permanent residency.

And again, no plan. We don’t plan necessarily on moving down here—we might—but it’s just about options. So far, we’re loving it down here, so maybe it is a plan at this point.

So, paperwork-wise, for him, it was just proving that we’re U.S. citizens. We need things like school transcripts and criminal records just to show that we lived in the United States. For our permanent residence, it’s a little bit more complex.

Lauren: More in-depth.

Mike: Yeah.

Mad Fientist: That’s amazing. That’s great. And yeah, having the options is huge and that’s something I’m definitely looking into, obviously getting maybe UK citizenship and possibly some other easier routes. But yeah, it’s such a big thing, just having the options. Having two passports is an incredible, incredible thing. So, that’s awesome. That’s really cool!

Now, as far as costs go, I’m assuming it’s much cheaper down there. And you said a la carte. So, are you guys fully just self-funding this?

Lauren: Yes. We are self-funding this. It was just like what Mike had mentioned. We called the doctor’s office, and the doctor actually answered his own phone on a Saturday. He answered all of our questions. He was able to tell us exactly how much everything would be, which comes up to around $4000 to $4500 depending on how many nights we’re there and that sort of thing.

Mike: I guess we should preface that by saying that in Costa Rica, there’s a public health care system and a private health care system. So, the public health care system, we could actually go and use for free at this point. But when you say giving birth in Costa Rica, it’s kind of more what people expect that. They have that somewhat negative connotation in their mind. Some people have even said, “So, you’re giving birth in a hut?” Obviously, it’s not that. But it’s definitely more second-world like, “Why the husband can’t be in the room with the wife when she’s giving birth? It’s in a room of like seven women.” So, that’s the public system which isn’t necessarily bad, but we weren’t interested in that.

The private system is paid for cash and has so far exceeded anything we’ve seen in the United States as far as level of care, the technology in the hospitals, the cleanliness. It’s exactly what you would expect States-side and maybe even a little better.

So, for the hospital, we just got our estimate. It’s going to be $1500 for the whole stay. And then our doctor is $1500 to $2000. I can’t remember, we talked on the phone. And then, an epidural is $500. If you go in for a C-section, if there are complications, that’s another $500. So, they have this list this prices that just lays it out exactly, “If this happens, this is what it costs.”

And for us…

Lauren: Well, that was impressive for us because when we were calling around in the U.S. trying to figure out pricing, they just kept saying, “Well, it costs what it costs. We’ll find out when it’s over with.” That’s not what we want to know. We want to know upfront about how much it could be and they couldn’t give us an estimate even.

Mike: So, people assume we’re here to save money. We will save when it’s all said and done after you consider air fare and our accommodations here, everything. We’ll save maybe a thousand dollars over what we would’ve paid in the United States. But it’s really not about the savings for us. It’s 1) opting out of a healthcare system that we don’t agree with in the United States, 2) the dual citizenship which is, really, the primary reason (the permanent residence is a side benefit), and then 3) just the adventure.

Lauren: We need to have a really cool vacation before having a baby.

Mad Fientist: Absolutely! That is so cool. What town are you in actually?

Mike: We’re in Escazu.

Lauren: It’s just a suburb of San Jose.

Mad Fientist: San Jose, cool! And you got there three days ago and you said you’re living in a mansion, a shared mansion.

Mike: Yes. It’s actually two mansions side by side.

Mad Fientist: That’s amazing. So, have you had any doctor visits since you’ve been down there yet or…?

Lauren: Yes, we were able to schedule one before we left for the day that we arrived which was nice. So, we got to go in, meet the doctor who was fantastic. He’s actually from New York City, so it is nice to not have a language barrier because our Spanish is not quite up to par. We’re working on it though. So that was really nice to get to meet him in person.

And the office was amazing. They include 4D ultrasound with every office visit where back home, you get two ultrasounds throughout the whole pregnancy. And you want to do the 4D, it’s an additional $200 or $300. And this is just included. So that was really cool. Everything has been fantastic so far.

Mike: And yesterday, we went to go see the hospital for the first time. We just wanted to go look at the hospital. We went to the finance department. They gave us a whole tour of the second floor. It was just really nice. The language barrier there was almost non-existent. By the time we got to the floor manager who was giving us our tour, she spoke perfect English. So, so far, it’s just been an exceptional experience.

Mad Fientist: That’s so good to hear. So, what are your plans for after the birth? You said March is when the due date, so you may just be hanging out. What are your plans up until then as well?

Lauren: Well, he’s due March 1st. But of course, it could come at any point in the next after two weeks or so. So, we’re just hanging out for now. And then, once he’s born, we’ll have to wait on his birth certificate which the doctor just told us should only be a few days’ time. And then, we have to apply for his U.S. passport which should take about a week or two. And at that point, we are good to fly back home to Florida, which we will do as soon as we can just to be able to get back home for family to be able to meet him and that sort of thing.

Mike: And then, once we get there, we’re going to start our plans for an upcoming RV trip that we have.

So, the plan is this. We’re going to buy an RV. We’re going to buy a trailer, and outfit the trailer with a mobile workshop. And then, visit all of our friends from YouTube and do fun, unique and interesting projects with them as we just travel the country. We’ll make a YouTube series out of that. And hopefully, through all that, we can create an online income sustainable enough that we can do that full-time.

So, this next year is a very risky one. At this point, our YouTube earnings are at the point where we’re basically breaking even with expenses. So, if we want to continue our plans for Extreme Early Retirement, we need to boost our income.

But at this point, we’re getting by just fine with the income that we’ve already started generating from our YouTube channel.

Mad Fientist: That’s cool. That’s perfect. I saw that your super powered pencil sharpener thing went pretty viral. I think if you’re out there making a lot of other cool stuff, it’s no doubt going to just keep growing.

So, you’re planning on driving around the country and meeting up with the readers and things and just doing cool projects that they have in mind. Have you got some good ideas so far?

Mike: Oh, the response was overwhelming. I think we have a running list now of 300 or 400 or maybe 500 potential stops at this point. So, it is really cool and everyone was so receptive to the idea. It’s just opened all kinds of doors just announcing the plans. Obviously, there are some things we can’t talk about, but basically—we’ve already gotten interest from network television for the idea which is absolutely incredible.

Mad Fientist: Wow! That’s so good.

Mike: We were expecting to have to do this for a while, and then maybe pitch a show or something like that. But literally, within just announcing the idea. TV is very fickle. That doesn’t mean anything that we’ve had someone reach out to us, but it’s still flattering that they would do that.

Mad Fientist: That’s so cool. That’s really exciting.

So, how long after you get back to Florida do you think you’ll try to kick off this big trip?

Lauren: We’re hoping by the fall to be able to start an East Coast run to go up probably to New York and see about that. But it’ll depend on where the RV is ready, when everything is set to go, how the baby is with traveling. We could go sooner, we could go later.

Mike: And while we’re here in Costa Rica, you mentioned, “What are you doing while you’re there?”, I’m putting together a comprehensive corporate sponsorship proposal, so hopefully, we can get things like the trailer and the tools and maybe even some gas money sponsored by companies who are interested in the idea.

Mad Fientist: Oh, man, great idea.

Mike: So, that’s what I’m spending my time doing. And then, Lauren is just having a baby.

Mad Fientist: Yeah! That’s plenty of work to do.

So, you think you’ll do just little exploratory trips for a short period just to test it out or do you think you’re just going to hit the road and not come back.

Mike: That’s kind of what the East Coast trip is we’re planning. It’s just maybe a month or two, head up towards New York, and then come back and hit a handful of stops and just kind of see how the idea works.

Mad Fientist: That’s so cool! Have you started looking for the RV and everything?

Mike: We have. And I’ve been looking now probably since October or so. We’ve come across some good deals, but we didn’t want to purchase anything before we left for Costa Rica just to have it sit for two months unless it was a really, really good deal. And we came across some fair deals.

But once we get back, we can actually be more serious about finding something to buy.

Mad Fientist: Nice! How big are you looking?

Mike: We’re going to go class A big with the baby.

Lauren: Probably around 40 feet.

Mike: Yeah, 38 to 40 feet, yeah.

Mad Fientist: None of those numbers mean nothing to me, but yeah. Big versus medium or small, that makes sense.

Lauren: Well, it’s going to be 40 feet for the RV, but then there’s going to be a 20-foot trailer behind it. So, it’s going to be a pretty serious rig.

Mad Fientist: Wow! That’s crazy. Are there definite places that you’re planning on going or are you just playing it by ear as far as who gets in touch and plan it all out, plan the whole journey out later?

Lauren: We haven’t planned too much yet. We figured that once we get closer, we can start to have people submitting more formal things that they might want to build. We could kind of go from there to plan a course.

Mike: It seems like it was kind of divided. We had a lot of interest on the East Coast. And then, we had a ton of interest in Texas. I don’t know if we just have a big viewership or something in Texas, but we have more stops in Texas than anywhere else. So, we’ll probably just do a whole Texas run.

And then, we’ll follow that up with a West Coast run. And we’d love to do Canada at some point as well.

Mad Fientist: Wow! That sounds amazing. So, you guys obviously have some incredible plans and ideas that you’re executing on. Is there anything that you see after the big RV trip or you’re just playing that by ear because it sounds like that could be quite a while that you’re out on the road?

Lauren: For now, we’re just playing it by ear because for all we know, we could do the East Coast tour and decide we don’t really want to keep doing it or we could love it and go all over the country with it. So, it’s up in the air for now. We’ll play it by ear.

Mike: And then, we’ve also had plans, long-term plans of eventually going on a sailboat as well.

Lauren: By going on a sailboat, he means living on a sailboat.

Mike: Living, living on a sailboat, yeah.

Mad Fientist: Nice! Do you have any experience sailing at all or is that something you just wanted to learn over the next little while.

Lauren: No, we’ve been talking about learning for a while. We’ve actually bought a little Hobie Cat. We do live in Florida on the beach, so it was easy for us to do. Mike took it out just one time and got stuck, and so we decided that we do need formal lessons with that. So, we’re going to work on that when we get home hopefully and maybe take some lessons over the summer.

Mad Fientist: That’s cool. Down there, how have you found the cost of living? I know you’ve only been there for three days, but you can probably get quite a good sense of the general cost of living.

Mike: In this area, it’s pretty Americanized, and so the prices are about what we paid in the United States. But from what we’ve read, once you get out of the major city—we’re in the most affluent neighborhood in Costa Rica, so it’s kind of difficult to tell. But so far, it’s been reasonable.

Yesterday, we went for lunch to an Italian place where it was all homemade pasta and homemade sausages. It was delicious. And it was $12 a plate. So, it’s about the same as we would pay for a chain restaurant in the United States, but it was homemade.

And then, there are also some cheap—they’re called sodas, the cafes here. Those are about $5 a plate for—we’ve got chicken, rice, beans and vegetables.

Mad Fientist: That’s not bad. And just to reiterate—I don’t know if anyone picked up on that—this is the first time you’ve been in Costa Rica, three days ago?

Lauren: Yes, yeah.

Mike: Yeah, three days ago, yeah.

Mad Fientist: You guys, I love how you just play and stuff and just jump right in, just trying it out as you go along. It’s amazing!

Mike: That’s how we did Europe. We landed with no hotel or hostel or any plans for that night. We like winging it, playing it by ear.

Lauren: Although this time, we did have a bit more plan in place.

Mike: Yes.

Mad Fientist: That’s awesome! So you’re saving 50% of your income money. Usually, I like to ask my guest, “What are your primary investing strategies? Did you do any index funds? Did you do any real estate?”

Mike: Well, we have plans for real estate. We’ve been under contract for two properties and both fell through. But [silence] market index funds. So, we’re 100% stocks.

Mad Fientist: You just cut out there for a second, so could you just reiterate what you just said?

Mike: Yup! So, we have plans for real estate. And in fact, we’re under contract for two houses, but both of them fell through last year. So, at this point, we’re still 100% in stocks, in Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund. We’ve just learned from other people’s experience that index fund investing is the best route. So, that’s what we’ve done.

And we would like to get rental properties at some point and diversify a little bit, particularly in Florida where, during the recessions, the housing get super cheap, and during the booms, it increases.

Right now, it’s a little too pricey for us. So, maybe in the next couple of years, we’ll revisit the real estate idea.

Mad Fientist: Nice. I’ve been so tempted as well to dip my toes in there, but index funds are just so stress-free.

Lauren: Yes!

Mike: Yes, exactly.

Mad Fientist: But at least you can fix things obviously. You’re handy, I’m not. So anything that goes wrong with any sort of house thing, it just stresses me out so much.

Mike: Yeah, I actually enjoy it. So yeah, we’re completely different. We’re opposites in that respect. So yeah, I think real estate would be a good fit for us. We’re just waiting for the right deal.

Mad Fientist: Where in Florida are you guys at again?

Lauren: Sarasota. It’s about 45 minutes off of Tampa.

Mad Fientist: Okay, cool. My parents just moved down 2 ½ hours north of Tampa. So, maybe next time I’m in Tampa, we can hang out if you guys are there.

Mike: Absolutely!

Lauren: That would be great!

Mike: Absolutely!

Mad Fientist: …if you’re not on the road somewhere really interesting.

Mike: Yeah.

Mad Fientist: That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s such an incredible story. You guys, I love how you just dive in and start doing stuff. So I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me especially being so close to the birth. I felt bad asking, but it’s good.

Mike: No, not at all.

Mad Fientist: And the connection has been amazing. You must get good WiFi down there.

Mike: Yeah! Actually, WiFi is great. It went out once yesterday, and that was it. Speeds are great though.

Lauren: Yeah.

Mad Fientist: Nice. I usually ask all my guests, “If you had one piece of advice for someone on the path to financial independence, what would that be?”

Mike: It’s actually funny you asked that because I was just listening to you, the J Money podcast you posted yesterday.

Mad Fientist: Oh, nice.

Mike: And our one piece of advice usually is to question everything. It just seems like everything that you’re taught about money and really life should be question. That’s what we have found.

Sometimes, the common advice is the right thing. But actually, most of the time, it’s just not, and at least being open to the idea of asking yourself, “Is this what I really want?”, that you just head on a different trajectory. That, for us, has made us really happy.

Lauren: Right.

Mad Fientist: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. It’s amazing just how all the things you hear you think are just the known and the right thing are just totally not.

Mike: Exactly!

Mad Fientist: That’s so good.

Mike: One of the other ideas we have while we were here is to write some sort of ebook about what we’re doing and also one about personal finance. And the running title for that one right now is Question Everything You Think You Know About Money. And that’s just our mantra.

Mad Fientist: Nice! So, you think that’s something you’ll pursue and finish?

Mike: I think so because like I said, we really would like to make this online income sustainable. Selling digital products is definitely the next step for us.

We’ve seen great success actually—if we want to take a little tangent. We just released a YouTube masterclass about creating YouTube videos. And I didn’t mean this to be a plug of that, but all I have to say is that last month, we were absolutely blown away by how much we’ve made from it. It almost exceeded our normal incomes from last month.

So, basically, our whole trip is being paid for from this YouTube class that we created. We had no idea it wasn’t even going to sell more than $100. We’ve just been blown away by the potential of online income. We’re looking forward to exploring that more.

Mad Fientist: That’s amazing! Congratulations! I’ll obviously link to that in the shownotes as well. Yeah, you guys are definitely the people to learn from because, as I’ve said, your videos are highly addictive. I can’t stop watching them. So, I know you’re making me less and less productive as I dive more into your back catalog.

So, is there any other information about online income? A lot of people in audience, I think, having a supplemental income is an amazing thing to have when you’re pursuing financial independence because it just takes some of the stress away and takes a little bit of the pressure off your portfolio.

So, yeah, if you have any other tangents that you wanted to—

Mike: Well, I just want to talk about—we share all of our income, expenses and net worth to our newsletter subscribers. We’ve actually shared it on our YouTube channel a couple of times. I actually really like talking about online income and can actually real figures.

Mad Fientist: Wow! That would be great.

Mike: So, for our YouTube channel right now, we’re making about $500 a month off of it. We get somewhere between 100,000 to 200,000 views—no, I’m sorry. Yeah, 100,000 and 200,000 views per month.

So, right now, we have around 35,000 subscribers. And basically, the rule of thumb is for every thousand views, you get $3. That can vary between $1 and $3. And those are for the advertisements that you see before a YouTube video and the little banners on the side and stuff like that.

So, all things considered, it’s actually not that great considering the amount of effort we put into our YouTube channel. To be making $400 or $500 isn’t exactly great. But with an audience, we have learned as of last month, comes the opportunities for other income.

We also have been approached by a couple of sponsors. In August last year, we were approached by Progressive Insurance to make videos for them. We made three videos for them, and they paid us $4000. So that was really nice.

Mad Fientist: Wow!

Mike: And then we have a standing contract with H&R Block. We make videos for their blog which is BlockTalk. I don’t know if I can share the monthly on that, but it’s similar if you were to break down the Progressive rate. It’s about the same. So, we do one video a month for them.

So, between the H&R Block videos and the YouTube earnings and now this YouTube class and the potential of our upcoming year, we’re expecting between—collaborations with fans and collaborations with other YouTubers (because as we drive around the country, we’ll be visiting other YouTubers), the best way to go with your YouTube channel is to meet other YouTubers and share videos. We’re hoping that we can create not just a sustainable income, but a lucrative income online.

Mad Fientist: Wow!

Mike: And then, go back to digital products, I have a couple of ideas, one is that Question Everything About Money, what you’ve been taught about money. And then, also, something we’re really passionate about is not having car payments. I think in my circle of friends and family, that’s one of the biggest budget busters. If you could just cut that out, you can make a significant impact on your finances.

People just can’t understand how we pay cash for our cars, so I’d like to create an ebook/video course about how to find a used car, have a mechanic show you what to look for and many of the cars that we recommend. We’ll even have a quick guide to buy these cars like, “This year to this year was a good engine for this car,” a really comprehensive used car buying guide. I think that would be really helpful.

Mad Fientist: Oh, that would be interesting.

Mike: That would be another something that maybe could—everything we do in our lives seems like it’s either going to flop or it’s just going to be crazy successful.

Mad Fientist: I’m sure it’s more of the latter. No, that sounds really good. How did the course come about?

Mike: We were actually emailed from our co-creator. His name is Phil Ebner. He’s a Udemy instructor who’s actually doing that full-time—which is interesting to me. If you’re looking for online income, he only creates courses on Udemy.com and has made a living from that.

So, he contacted us and asked if we’d like to co-create a course with him. So, we split the revenue 50/50 and he did about—he did a lot of the work. We were going to split the curriculum 50/50, but he did about 70 videos, and we did 34 or 35. And then we split the revenue 50/50.

It’s been really nice because he has so much experience launching a successful course that we’ve learned a lot from him. And now, should we choose to do our own course about any completely—he’s so cool. He wants to help us if we chose to do another course. So that’s another option, creating another Udemy course, maybe about personal finance or just videography side of things.

We just have so many options right now. And now that we don’t have jobs, we have full-time…

Lauren: …with time. Before, we were kind of fitting all these stuff in around work. It just wasn’t feasible anymore.

Mad Fientist: How have you found that actually? Parkinson’s law which states that the time that you give up tasks to get done, that’s how long it will take really. I actually found that when we were traveling around Thailand for three months at the beginning of last year. I was like, “Oh, man. I’m going to get so much Mad Fientist work done and so many posts out.” And I ended up just not doing anything because there was no pressure to get stuff done and I had all the time in the world.

That’s a bit of my worry for when I eventually do quit my job. I have a lot of these things that I do want to try to get done. But I’m worried that if I have all the time in the world, I’ll not get them done.
So, I was wondering how you found that transition.

Mike: For us, the commitment to posting two videos a week has been really helpful. I am definitely a perfectionistic personality. So, if it were up, we probably would’ve never posted a video at this point because I want all the fancy graphics and everything.

So, telling your audience to expect a video on Friday and Sunday means that every Friday and every Sunday…

Lauren: …regardless of how we’re feeling or what we think of the finished product, we are going to post.

Mike: And the result is there are no videos that—every one is almost a pleasant surprise as to how well it turns out. And so we’ve just become accustomed to that.

And as far as all these other stuff, the corporate sponsorships and the ebook writing, I guess the pressure of I have a baby coming in three weeks and I have no employment is a pretty good motivation for that.

Mad Fientist: That’s great advice. And I think that, yeah, giving yourself those deadlines especially is something I’ll try to take away. I’m not promising anything yet, but maybe I’ll do one Mad Fientist post a month or two maybe.

Mike: Right! And especially if you tell your audience and they come to expect it, and then when you don’t and they ask, “We haven’t because all of our moving.” It’s funny we say we post two every week. The last three weeks, we haven’t because of all the moving. Everyone is emailing and asking us how we are, where we are, how’s it going.

Lauren: “Are you okay?”

Mad Fientist: Right! So that’s nice. It’s good to get that external pressure. That was actually the whole reason I started the site. If I’m pressured to put out posts, then I’ll do the research that I know that I could do to get to FI quicker. And it’s worked great. But now, I just don’t have any pressure, as much pressure to post anymore. So yeah, I think I need a set schedule like you guys. That sounds like a good call.

So Lauren, we never got to your piece of advice. We’ve talked a lot.

Lauren: I guess my piece of advice—well, this all started, like Mike said, when he was 17. He followed personal finance stuff. And that was not the case for me.

And so I definitely learned everything from Mike. And I always was one step behind him where he was totally excited about something and I was sort of hesitant. He didn’t have to talk me into it. He just had to give me time to say, “Yes, I think that is a good idea.”

And so, I think through all of that, I’ve just learned to try something. Try it even if you are hesitant about it or you think that it’s not for you or you think that the idea of saving that much of your income is just not feasible. Go for it!

If I had said from the beginning or even along all the different steps, “No, I’m not interested. No, I don’t think we could do it. I don’t know where we would be,” just being open to the whole idea gives you so much more opportunity.

Mad Fientist: That’s so good, yeah. And you guys were highschool sweethearts, right?

Lauren: Yes, yeah.

Mike: Yeah.

Mad Fientist: So has there been anything that’s taken more convincing than others? I know, for me, I stumbled on Early Retirement Extreme and then came home screaming and yelling and telling my wife all about it. She’s like that sounds like the worst idea I’ve ever heard in my life. So was there…

Lauren: Yeah, I probably had a similar reaction to that. Definitely, with Mr. Money Moustache, that helped. And even Mrs. Moustache’s posts, the few that she has helped to get onboard.

I would say though when Mike really said, “Okay, if we bump our savings to this much, we can retire by the time I’m 30.” I think that one, I was like, “You are crazy! What? No! We’re already doing well. Why would we push it?” And so, that one took a little bit longer for me to say, “Okay, yeah. Let’s go ahead. Let’s see what happens.” And it’s been great.

So, I think that was the big one for me to go over and hurdle with.

Mad Fientist: That’s really cool. Have you grown to love personal finance and numbers and all that sort of stuff that you might not have been into before?

Lauren: To a point, yes. I’m definitely more interested than I have been before, than I thought I would’ve been. But it really is Mike’s brainchild. He loves it and he enjoys it. It’s his passion. So, a lot of times, I might defer things to him. But I do think it’s all very interesting.

Mad Fientist: That’s cool! Alright! Is there anything I’ve missed? Is there anything else you guys—any crazy fience that I don’t know about it yet that you wanted to chat about or…?

Mike: I don’t think so.

Lauren: I don’t think so. I think we covered everything.

Mike: We got Costa Rica. We got the RV. We got the sailboat. I think we’re good.

Mad Fientist: That’s so good. I’m glad you’re enjoying it so far. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.

If people want to learn more, should they—I know if they go to MikeandLauren.tv, it will start a video instantly pretty much that tells all about you guys, right?

Mike: Yup, that’s it.

Lauren: Yes.

Mad Fientist: Is there anywhere else that they should go to to get in touch or just leave comments on YouTube videos or emails?

Mike: Well, we respond to YouTube comments first usually. But we also have MikeandLauren.com if you want to go to the contact page there or just [email protected]

Lauren: And MikeandLauren.com is where you can sign up for our monthly newsletter with all of our expense breakdown.

Mad Fientist: Cool! I’ll link to that, the newsletter link as well. I’ll link to the Udemy course which his really exciting. That’s awesome.

Mike: Oh, thank you.

Mad Fientist: Actually, before we go, do you just want to talk a little bit more about that just in case anybody is interested?

Mike: Yeah, sure. We actually talked about this at FinCon last year. And so when Phil Ebner emailed us and asked us to co-create this year, we already kind of done three months of research. We just had to expand that even more.

And basically, we cover everything from what it felt like starting with zero subscribers and zero views. And then, just kind of show you the backend, show you the analytics and show how each step along the way, whether it’s self-promotion or if we’re being promoted by another blog or collaborations, what the front page—our projects have been featured on Popular Mechanics and Make Magazine and LifeHacker—and how that has grown our audience and how it was slow in the beginning and it’s sort of exponential and taking off.

So, it’s a combination of what it feels like and how to start at zero, how to go from where we are now to where we want to go. We talked more about sponsorships and how much we charge, how much we’ll charge in the future and how that’s gone.

Lauren: Even the little details like thumbnails for each video.

Mike: Yeah, how we make our thumbnails. We’re not graphic designers, but we have custom thumbnails. And then, Phil goes through all the dashboard, the YouTube dashboard which is everything that you see on the backend of YouTube. He also shares all his tips for his—he has a YouTube channel of his own.

So, it’s kind of two people’s experience going from nothing to something and how we did it.

Mad Fientist: That’s really good. I could’ve used that. I’m embarrassed to tell you the story. My podcast started way back in 2012 I think, sometime in 2012—May, I think, possibly. I figured, “Well, I’ll make a video out of it and put it up to YouTube” because at the time, YouTube was one of the top three search engines (I’m sure it still is one of the top two maybe or something). I was like, “Well, this will help me find people there.”

So, I just made videos out of them and I put them up. I turned monetization on because I was like, “Well, it doesn’t matter if there are ads there because there’s nothing really on the screen anyway. It’s just an audio thing with a placeholder image.” So, I was like, “Yeah, I’ll throw some ads up.”

For there years, I never made a single penny and I was like, “Man, you must have to have hundreds and millions of views to make any moment because I haven’t earned a single penny.”

And then, I read some article literally only like four months ago or something I think that said, “You have to link up your Google Adsense account to your ads.” I was like, “Oh, my God! I cannot believe…”

One, I’m stupid enough to think that I earned zero pennies the entire three years of putting videos up there. So now, I make like, I don’t know, $30 or $40 a month or something, which isn’t a ton, but it’s like—that was free money I was just throwing away.

So yeah, I could’ve used your course.

Mike: And in fact, actually, I think our course on Udemy is priced at $297. So, if you want, I can create a coupon code just for your podcast and we’ll make it $49?

Mad Fientist: Cool, yeah! I will talk to you after this to figure out how to do it.

Mike: Yeah, I’ll send you a coupon link.

Mad Fientist: Cool! And I will put that in the shownotes. That’s awesome. Yeah, definitely, that would be great. So, thank you.

Mike: Welcome.

Mad Fientist: So yeah, thanks, guys. I really appreciate for taking your time.

Mike: No, thank you for having us.

Mad Fientist: I’m glad you’re enjoying sunny Costa Rica. Hopefully, you have some time to go explore before you’re new parents.

Lauren: Yes!

Mike: Yes!

Lauren: We’re hoping to.

Mad Fientist: Thanks again. And hopefully, I’ll get you back on the show maybe after your RV trip and we can find out how all of these amazing stuff you guys are doing has gone.

Mike: Cool!

Mad Fientist: Thanks very much, guys. Good luck with everything.

Lauren: Thank you.

Mike: You too. Bye bye.

Mad Fientist: Bye!

Well, I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Mike and Lauren. As I mentioned in the interview, that was recorded back in February. So, a lot has happened since then. They’ve had their baby in Costa Rica. They’ve come back to the States and bough an RV. So, lots of exciting stuff has happened. So, I’m going to link to all those exciting new videos in the show notes so that you can check out where they are now and you can hear a lot more about their experience of giving birth in Costa Rica.

But yeah, I hope you enjoyed that. I hope it inspires you to step outside the box a little bit and “question everything” as Mike said and live a lot more exciting and cheaper actually. That’s what it sounds like from what their experience from Costa Rica was.

So, I hope you enjoyed it. See you next time.

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19 comments for “Mike and Lauren – Medical Tourism, RVs, and Why You Should Question Everything

  1. May 18, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Nice interview Mr. Fientist.

    I’ve always been curious about Mike and Lauren. Poor Lauren – Mike drags her around on all his crazy plans! She seems OK with it though.

    Seems like the Youtube channel is working out for them.

  2. Cameron
    May 18, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    That’s pretty cool. I’ve never thought about leaving the country to have a baby; maybe it’s something to consider.

    Also, I just got back from an awesome 10-day vacation in Costa Rica with the fiancé. Highly recommend a visit!

  3. May 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Very cool! I recently watched the Inside Man medical tourism episode and found it fascinating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP1bIFKyzzw

    Great reason for doing it, in addition to knowing what the price is.

  4. May 19, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Great show! Glad you interviewed Mike & Lauren. And thanks to Mike and Lauren for the kind words! It’s been a blast co-creating courses with them.

  5. Joe
    May 19, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    I really enjoyed this one. And I still think your podcast is the best for PF. I love your simple style. Maybe it is because I’m 28, live in an RV in FL with my high school sweetheart wife, that this interview really resonated with me… I feel like I’m always coming up with insane (-ly awesome) ideas and it takes me a little to convince my wife how BA they really are ;). (I’m actually currently working on the living in a sailboat idea!).

    If I can add one tiny suggestion, I’d say keep going with interesting topics and maybe don’t worry about going back to a script or pre-selected questions. I was getting really excited when they started talking about some of their adventurous plans, and I thought “no, he’s already getting into the personal finance advice portion of the show! It’s almost over!” :P. But maybe that’s just me, because our lives are so similar. I’m now going to check out their site and waste a few hours.

    Keep doing your thing MF, I love all your stuff.

  6. Bob. Frugal+as+dirt.
    May 19, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Damn good interview! Man I wish them well.

  7. May 19, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    I love their stuff thanks so much for interview.

    I hope you have figured out a schedule for yourself. I am having the same problem. I thought I would get so much done after my lay off but the task of mothering seems to have expanded to fill the space.

    Though I haven’t figured out a consistent posting schedule I am sitting down at my computer ( writing) every day so that’s a plus.

    And if you need a little pressure. I want to let you know your tax stuff has been immensely helpful and I am anxiously waiting for more travel posts. Specially since I want to take my family out of the country!

  8. May 19, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    PS. You might want to add share buttons. I clicked the Twitter one up top and it took me to your page instead of creating a link to share the interview.

  9. Eric
    May 19, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    There should be a drinking game, where whenever the MF says “yeah”, you take a drink. And when he ends a sentence with “so, yeah”, you take two drinks. You’d be trashed in no time. Lol

    I love everything else about the podcast though.

  10. Christopher R Goheen
    May 19, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Awesome interview MF! I want to wish mike and Lauren congrats on their new baby boy and all the best for their current adventures and beyond. One thing I would like to question about their investment strategy and that of many others on the FIRE journey is thinking that the stockmarket is a “safe place” for your assets. I recently read the book “killing sacred cows” by Garrett Gunderson and it has really made me reconsider my own path to FIRE. I reccomend this book to anyone who has the slighted interest in personal finance.
    Thanks again MF for all the incredible value you have created for the FIRE community.

  11. May 21, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Nice interview Brandon!

    Love the idea of dual citizenship. Thankfully Australia is one of those countries mentioned that allow you to keep your Australian citizenship if you were to get another. And you’re right about watching Mike and Lauren’s videos, I can’t stop watching!

  12. May 22, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Great interview! Thank you for the audio streaming and for the transcript. Crazy idea but I do agree with dual citizenship.

  13. May 31, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Great interview! Thanks for introducing me to Mike and Lauren! I particularly liked how they went deep on how exactly they make money on YouTube and what the numbers actually look like.

  14. June 12, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Hmm, I’m such a home-body that I don’t think I could go through with being THAT frugal. Though I would like to travel during retirement.

    Thanks for the post (long time lurker, first time poster)

  15. NB
    August 28, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks for a great show, Mr Mad Fientist! My husband and I are always looking forward to the new episode!
    I looked through the notes but I couldn’t find $49 Udemy code. Can you share it please? Thanks!

  16. September 13, 2016 at 10:05 am

    hahah living on a sail boat! that would be awesome! I hear alot of expats are moving to costa rica, would definitely want to vacation there before making the move. I wonder how much farther the dollar would go holistically.

  17. Fergus
    January 21, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Great podcast. RE: medical tourism: what happens if something goes wrong? How pursue medical negligence, liability, etc.? Thanks, Fergus

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