Lifestyle

Filipino-American Who Made Millions Off Snapchat Explains Why He’s Spent NONE Of It

At 28, Garrett Gee is living the life. In 2011, he launched his QR code startup Scan in his college dorm at BYU. In 2013, he received national attention after pitching his company on Shark Tank in his flip-flops.

A year later, Gee sold Scan to Snapchat for $54 million, making him an instant millionaire. With such a large sum of money, many would wonder how Gee spends his newfound fortune.

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Well, it’s been over two years since the acquisition and Gee and his family have not spent ANY of the money.

“I’ve seen many good and bad examples in my life that I try to learn from,” Gee told NextShark. “I see people close to me that live frugally and continue to work and serve throughout their lives even though they’re rich. On the contrary, there are countless examples of people who had riches but lost it all.”

“One thing is for sure, having wealth is a responsibility and opportunity to DO GOOD,” he added.

Instead, Gee, his wife Jessica and their two kids sold everything they owned for $45,000 and decided to travel the world for six months. Their goal was to survive without ever dipping into their savings.

“We agreed that we would NOT dip into our savings, so when/if the $45,000 ran out we’d stop traveling,” Gee told NextShark. “If we wanted to continue traveling, we needed to find a way to work and make money on the road before we reached the end of our runway.”

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For the next five months, the family was able to survive by being extremely frugal, like booking the cheapest flights and drinking water during meals.

“We have definitely learned to value experiences over things. EVERYTHING we own currently fits into two pieces of luggage and one small carry-on. We don’t have working phones (Wi-Fi only) so outside of travelers insurance we don’t have any bills.”

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During their trip, the Gees started an Instagram and blog called “The Bucket List Family” where they built up quite a following blogging about their adventures.

“We documented our travels and promoted airlines, hotels, and other relevant brands,” Gee said. “Similar to Scan, it started slow and we worked diligently while making no money. As our following began to grow, so did our opportunities to work.”

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The brand deals started off small, but it was enough for the Gees to break even and continue traveling. At the one year mark, they finally started making a profit.

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Gee’s kids Dorothy, 4, and  Manilla, 2, are still too young for formal schooling but will eventually be put into standard public school when they’re old enough. However, the constant traveling has been quite an educational experience for them.

“It’s fun teaching Manilla the different animals by showing him these animals in their natural habitats,” Gee said. “One of Dorothy’s favorite countries we have visited was Japan. That’s where she learned how to use chopsticks and eat her favorite dish, udon noodles!”

“Children adapt to new situations. If a child has a crib to sleep in every night, then they will expect a crib. But if a child doesn’t have a crib, they will quickly adapt and become comfortable sleeping on couches, floors, airplanes, boats, and more. Same for food. If a child has access to Lucky Charms then they will want Lucky Charms. But if bibimbap is the only option, they’ll eat bibimbap.”

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The family has been so successful that Gee is now making more than the salary he was scared to leave behind at his desk job. However, that hasn’t stopped him from straying away from frugality.

“We continue to be frugal mostly because that’s what feels right and natural,” Gee said. “Sometimes we work with airlines and they’ll put us up in first class. If we’re paying, then it’s the cheapest ticket we can find. Sometimes if we work with hotels and they cover our meals, we’ll order smoothies! If we’re paying, then it’s waters all around.”

“If I were to name the areas where we “splurge” : experiences, health, and photography. Experiences because YES! Health because without it you’re dead. and photography because that’s what I love to do and now it’s how we make money.”

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“Living a minimalistic lifestyle relieves stress from your life and helps show you what’s most important in your life.”

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