Tag Archives: Tim Ferris

Is it possible to apply geo-arbitrage in your everyday life?

You might have heard this term coined by Tim Ferris in his The 4-Hour Workweek. In the essence geo-arbitrage is about outsourcing your professional and personal life, making use of the fact that the world is turning into a global village. In his book Tim was mostly talking about it in the context of hiring a virtual assistant that would do both your professional and personal errands at a fraction of your calculated or assumed hourly-rate. In that way, while your virtual assistant from, say India, is searching for a present for your mother-in-law, you can do yoga, or spend time eating-out with your customer, or do whatever you wish to do.

Yet, in my perception geo-arbitrage extends beyond pure making use of a cheap labor in a faraway land. Stretching it a bit, it is also about looking around within your own country. So, how do I apply geo-arbitrage at this point in time? I am saying “in this point in time” because I am constantly in search for ways to optimize our life.

  1. The choice of location for a house. We have a lovely house (still partly only partially finished though) with a big garden in one of the Belgian villages. Having the same size of a house (and I am not even talking about a garden!) in Antwerp or in Gent would not be affordable. Yet, Antwerp is 20 minutes drive north-east and Gent is 25 minutes drive south-west.
  2. We buy groceries and occasionally alcohol in the Netherlands (Hulst is 15 minutes drive), where the VAT is lower and overall prices are cheaper than in Belgium.
  3. For diapers it is frequently cheaper to order them from Germany.
  4. We regularly travel to my home country – Latvia. If we would travel from Belgium that would cost us a fortune every time, but low-coasters don’t fly to Riga airport from Belgium. So we travel from Eindhoven (NL).
  5. I go to the hairdresser’s in Latvia, not only because I like my hairdresser and I don’t want to change her, but also because every time it saves me something around 80 EUR (less than a return airplane ticket with a low-coaster if you’re lucky). Even if I would not be travelling to Latvia to visit my family, I would seriously consider keeping this habit!
  6. Also in Latvia my husband and I did the green card course in golf
  7. …and regularly go to opera.

These are just some examples that first came to my mind. The point is – the world is indeed becoming a global village and there are more and more possibilities out there. Of course you have to take into account e.g. time and additional effort and all the other things, and yes – if you don’t live next to the border with a cheaper country or regularly travel to one – it might turn out to be not worth a hassle. Yet, possibilities do exist.

 

“Why did you even bother to do an MBA?”

I am writing this post for a couple of reasons.

The first one is probably just to reassure myself once again that I am not actually downshifting, but on the contrary – I am applying everything that I have ever learned, I am progressing and moving forward not only in personal growth but also in terms of professional development.

The second one is even more emotional. There is a thing that was really bothering me – the phrase that I heard from somebody – “if you decided to be a stay-at-home mother in the end, why did you even bother to do an MBA?” And here I come to the second reason for writing this post – an external affirmation. Even though I claim that I do not care that much what other people say about me, even though I do insist that I have accepted my new identity (maybe… yeah, ok, still in the process), the lack of an external affirmation cannot be denied. But that is so not fair!

Being a stay-at-home mother in itself requires me to use all the skills and knowledge that I obtained both in my working life and in all my studies. Mediation? Try resolving a conflict over who get this or that toy! Negotiation skills? Try persuading the toddler to eat her soup! Operations management? Household! Corporate finance? Well, family finances in general, as well as investments and expenses are so far still pretty much on track with us. I will get back to MBA and its applicability to my life as a stay-at-home mother in more detail later on.

Yes, one can clean the house and buy groceries and pick up kids from school without having studied at one of the back then best European business schools. Yes, it is possible. Likewise, being a manager and even being a consultant is possible without an MBA. What I have learned in my professional career was that a lot of things are just a matter of common sense and a bit of an outside view on the problem. If you are smart, creative and able to learn you are able to reinvent the wheel yourself.

Here! Reason number one: you get an MBA and learn all those things like “lean operations”, “marketing mix”, “strategy execution”, “BATNA” and so on to be able to just do whatever you do without reinventing the wheel. In that way you just become more efficient. Also as a stay-at-home mother!

Reason number two: it was actually during my year-off to study an MBA that I actually took a first moment to think about myself, my values, my priorities. Maybe back then, during that year I still did not decide what I want, but I for sure did decide what I do not want. I now, more than ever before, have a choice.

As a final note, Tim Ferris had a great phrase in his book on 4-hour workweek: “It’s not giving up to put your current path on the indefinite pause“. It is not if you did an MBA that you now have to go and kill yourself working for a large consultancy firm (unless that’s what you really want); and if you decided to stop whatever you are doing and change a course, it is your choice. Your life. You don’t owe anything to anybody in this respect. And if you really truly want to go back, you will. And that will also be your and only your choice.