The author, Courtney Loechl, is a Make Shit Happen coach, hostel management consultant, and avid world traveler. With a focus on consistent, tangible steps paired with the right mindset, she guides her clients to transform overwhelm into action in order to grow their businesses and achieve major life goals.
After years of living around the world—teaching English to child monks in Thailand, guiding whitewater rafting in Swaziland, hitchhiking through New Zealand, managing a hostel in San Francisco, and much more—she made it her mission to help others follow their dreams instead of just talk about it. Courtney lives with her wife Candice in a ’79 Dodge camper van they renovated into their tiny home, with plans to convert a full-size school bus into a mobile hostel called The Wanderbus.
Identity is a crazy thing. We may live in a world of labels put on us by others, but it’s really the labels we put on ourselves that can be the most limiting.
For me one of these labels was “broke hippie.”
If you remember nothing else out of what I share below, remember this: You can live non-normatively with authenticity AND have lots of money!
For almost 10 years I traveled the world, did non-normative jobs, experienced amazing things, and frequently had very little money.
In the same way that our society glorifies being busy, the backpacker world celebrates being broke.
Where’s the cheapest place to stay, how low can you haggle for that T-shirt or wooden figure, why pay for booze at the bar when you can smuggle in a flask for free?
You can argue that this cheap existence happens because it’s how travelers sustain their travels, but I’ve been there and I call bullshit on that being the only reason.
I’ve either participated in or experienced countless conversations on the pride of spending the lowest amount of money or the shaming of someone who, god forbid, ordered a cocktail instead of drank the bag wine.
Plenty of this happened on my own travels—I remember telling a friend at home with glee about a perfect, delicious donut from a group dumpster dive in Byron Bay (to which she said, “Jesus, I can send you money!” and I thought she totally missed the point).
But if that’s not proof enough, I have six years of hostel management stories to back it up.
And without fully realizing it, I had completely internalized these ideals I so often saw around me.
Because the tricky thing about internal labels is that we don’t just embody them; they are often so ingrained in us we are simply blind to them even existing.
About a year and a half ago, while working on my business, I decided to do a really deep dive into my own money stories. I knew I had long felt like I never had enough money.
But I truly had no idea until I started digging that I had an entire IDENTITY around being broke. So much came up for me.
- Pride at being resourceful
- Guilt for spending on material things
- Fear that money would make me inauthentic
- Conviction that living non-normatively meant little money
- Judgment that people with money are selfish and don’t help the world
- And so much more
Looking back on these things now makes me laugh and cringe all at once. But at the time it was a giant OH SNAP moment.
Nevermind the irony of people with $300 backpacks haggling over $1 with a vendor in Thailand (because that’s really helping others).
I know so many people with a shit ton of money doing truly amazing things both in this world and for this world.
In fact, a big reason they CAN do so much good is because they have the financial capacity.
Many of them also lead very non-normative lives. They ooze authenticity. They are definitely resourceful. (Can you honestly make a lot of money without being resourceful?)
They also own material things, stuff beyond the necessities, and *gasp* they are still not bad people.
Owning stuff does not inherently make you less authentic, genuine, or valuable. It’s your attitude toward life and your actions toward others that determine the type of person you are.
As one of my coaches used to say, “Money only amplifies the type of person you already are.”
If you are someone who wants to give back and create massive change in the world (yes, please!), then having money is a massive resource, not something to be apologetic for.
For me, more financial wealth means everything from the ability to create more free/low-cost/equitable programs to increasing my monthly charity contributions (shout-out to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood Action Fund!) to investing in others’ dreams and small businesses, as well as my own health and happiness.
My biggest shifts around this broke hippie identity (besides taking the “broke” part right out!) have been changing to a “yes, and…” mentality instead of “either/or.”
Yes, we downsized our lives AND we have a storage unit.
Yes, we live in a ’79 camper van AND I want a Tesla.
Yes, we want to renovate a school bus next AND we want property for a home base.
You can live minimally and still have stuff.
You can build a van out of reclaimed or upcycled materials and still want (or buy!) a fancy car alongside it.
You can create a low-key nomadic life, and still have the stability of a home base.
So to whoever needs to hear this:
Your money story does NOT have to be either/or, and whatever your internalized label is, it does NOT have to define you.