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How one couple saved $100,000 and quit their jobs to sail around the world

Marguerite Ward
Source: Kimberly Joy Photography. Matt and Jessica Johnson were the typical American couple — until they sold everything and hit the open waters.

Matt and Jessica Johnson were the typical American couple — until they sold their house and cars, hunkered down for three years to save $100,000, and then quit their jobs to sail around the world on an extended vacation.

For the past four years, they have spent most of their time on a sailboat traveling to places like Peru, Guatemala and the Virgin Islands.

The couple says anyone can do what they're doing.

"You don't have to be special; you don't have to be rich," Matt said in a video he shared with CNBC.

"I really want to show people that you can live an adventure. You can live a life that's a little different."

Before trading dry land for the open water, the Michigan-based couple had an annual income of approximately $125,000. Matt was working at a local car dealership and Jessica at an insurance company.

"We started saving for this trip as soon as we decided it was something we'd like to do, back in early 2009," Jessica told CNBC in an email.

The couple sold their house and cars and moved back in with Matt's parents. They spent a total of three and a half years there to save up approximately $100,000.

They cast off in August 2012, with a Sabre 34 Targa and a budget to spend about $25,000 per year.

Other than one temporary gig teaching sailing lessons and another helping to deliver a boat, the duo hasn't worked since 2012. They've lived almost exclusively on their savings.

"We did not have any other kind of financial net such as a trust fund or inheritance," Matt told CNBC in an email. "We've just been able to live a very frugal life since we began saving, and also as we continue to travel."

Their next stop? The Arctic Circle. Currently, they are in Florida while their new boat, a Trisalu 37 built in Quebec, gets fitted for the long trip. They expect to set sail again in four months.

"Really anyone can take on this lifestyle if you just have the drive and determination and a little common sense," Jessica said.

"There's really nothing to stop you from just throwing off the lines and sailing to some of the most beautiful destinations in the world."



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