I've delayed writing this article for a while now because I'm not an authority on the subject. I don't make millions of dollars, and neither does Todd (that I know of).
However, something I realized is that it doesn't TAKE millions of dollars to make enough money to leave. Panama could easily be lived in for $1000 a month, and that's a sum that ANYONE could make.
So, instead of focusing on making huge sums of money, I'll focus on the first step : how to get out of the rat race and become location-independent.
A good start for most people, especially those not ready to make the leap from employee to entrepreneur is doing contract work. Thanks to the internet, ANYONE can do this.
Check out ELance.com and Rent a Coder. Jobs range from graphic design to programming to proofreading to writing to editing to web site creation. There are TONS of jobs available every day on these sites.
I'd say that 60-70% of people could at least make a satisfactory living if they were willing to write. A lot of the writing jobs are for writing articles... you just research it with google and then write a short article.
If you want to make a little more money, web design might be a good choice. There are countless tutorials online, but I'd start with W3 Schools. They have fantastic tutorials ranging from basic to super advanced, so if you just do one tutorial a day you could become an excellent web designed in not much time.
Something off-topic but that I'm passionate about so I'm going to mention it : These little daily habits are HUGE. You would never miss the time you spent doing the tutorials, but at the end of 6 months you'd have a serious skill set that could then free you from your actual job.
If you decide to go Life Nomadic, by the way, you will probably get enough to cover the first few months by selling your stuff. This is a nice buffer to allow you some time to pick up contracts.
I make my money through an ebook that I wrote called Make Her Chase You. It's about how to attract and date girls. The time spent gaining the knowledge to write the book was significant, but writing the book didn't take much time. I don't make much money from it, but the money is consistent and requires no further work from me.
What skills do you have that you could write an ebook about? The process isn't simple - especially the marketing aspect, but all of the information you need to learn is on the internet. It's just a matter of whether or not you'll dedicated some time every day towards it and whether you're disciplined enough to see it through.
Todd and I are also working on much bigger projects which are designed to make serious money. We had hoped to have them completed before the trip, but that didn't happen.
His site is SendShack, which is the best site for sending big files to people. It's great for pictures, videos, mp3s, or documents. He made it so that you can have an account and can store the files in your account for free, so that if you want to send them to someone else later, you don't have to upload again.
As you can see, the site is nearly done and is fully functional. It should be pulling in mad dollars within the month.
My project is called Conversion Doubler. It's a multivariate testing tool which allows you to dynamically change parts of your web site to test which version produces more signups or sales. Unless you're into internet marketing, this probably isn't very interesting. If you ARE into internet marketing, send me an e-mail. I have a really good affiliate program.
Anyway, I think it's a good idea to go in steps. Find a project or a plan that can make you enough money to pry yourself from your job. Live frugally. If you're about to go Nomad, you need to be SELLING stuff not BUYING it anyway.
I used to spend most of my money buying everything I wanted. Then I stopped buying anything and started investing my money in Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B) and Gold (NYSE: GLD). I'll tell you... even if it wasn't on purpose, that was a great preparation for the trip. I haven't had to use the money invested, but I know that if I need a buffer it's there.
The bottom line is this: there is TONS of money to be made on the internet. It's not always glamorous, clicking a few buttons and making hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it IS easier than a real job (per dollar). Best of all, it can always be done from anywhere at any time.
No one is going to tell you an easy way to make money
In the beginning days of my gambling thing, it was very easy to make money. The system was basically foolproof and anyone with a credit card could make a good yearly income. I wasn't making money through any sort of skill, I was essentially exploiting a loophole. But here's the thing about loopholes: no one is going to tell you how to do them, especially not someone you don't really know personally. Because if too many people find out about a loophole, it closes. So if you want to make "easy money", you're probably going to have to stumble upon it yourself. If someone IS trying to share a loophole with you (especially aggressively, by email) it's probably a scam like a HYIP or a Forex trading scheme.
Most of the people who were gambling like I was now play poker. You can play poker online or in casinos and make six figures a year. But it's not a loophole, so it's okay to tell everyone. The barrier to entry is a few years of exhaustive practice, thousands of dollars to lose while learning, and the ability to sustain that lifestyle while you struggle to break even.
I was a teenager with way too much time on his hands. It was summer break and I had just finished middle school. I used to spend hours browsing the web mindlessly, which is something I still occasionally do. In one of my browsing sessions I decided to see if there was any way to make money online. I didn't want to get a job. After all, I was a teenager who was scared of having to do any kind of work. But I also thought that it would be nice to get some extra cash to buy a few more beers, or whatever else I thought would make me happy back then.
I knew almost nothing about making money online. A friend of mine had tried clicking on ads for a while, and that earned him less than a dollar per week. I wanted to know if there was anything more profitable, so I joined a forum about making money online. There were a lot of people who said that making money on the internet was impossible, and a few more who claimed to have easily made about $1000. I focused on the second group, and I soon found out that they had all made money from sports betting.
What? How is sports betting supposed to make you any money?
Even if there is a way to make money from gambling, there surely must be a lot of risk involved. That's what any reasonable person would think. However, I soon found out that it's possible to make money from bonuses that bookmakers give to their new customers without any risk. To keep a long story short, you bet on all outcomes of a sports event so that you're guaranteed to keep a fraction of the bonus no matter which team wins.
It took me a while to wrap my head around the concept, but once I did, it all made perfect sense. The only problem was that I was only 15, way bellow the legal age of gambling. And I had no credit card, of course. I still don't know what arguments I used, but I managed to convince my mother to give me one of her credit cards for matched betting.