Chapter 5: Asheville and The Evolution of Man Vs. Debt


Note: This is a post from Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt. It was published in August 2011.

For the last two and a half years, I’ve been sharing our story and message online in an attempt to grow the amazing community here at Man Vs. Debt.

By taking a stroll through the archives, you can see just how much we’ve been through together. (Hasn’t it been fun?)

Reflecting back, there’s been 4 clear phases of our journey – or chapters, if you will:

  1. Chapter 1: The Struggle (the months in the trenches – selling stuff & plowing debt)
  2. Chapter 2: Freedom Realized (our time spent traveling Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand)
  3. Chapter 3: Return of the Family (coming back to U.S. – launching Sell Your Crap)
  4. Chapter 4: Life is a Highway (our RV Tour around the U.S.)

And, I’m excited to announce that last month we entered in to the newest chapter of our person lives – Chapter 5: Mountains & Music.

In other words, Courtney and I decided to wind down the R.V. tour and we’ve rented a home here in the beautiful city of Asheville, NC for the next year.

There were dozens of factors that played into our decision. Some of the major ones were:

  • Our primary personal goal of the entire RV tour was to scout places we’d like to spend a year or two. In our 6 months on the road we became comfortable with a couple places even sooner than we thought! (Portland and Asheville, for those wondering)
  • While I love so many aspects of traveling, I’ve realized that hosting friends and family is ingrained deep into my personality. Courtney and I wanted to spend some time returning a portion of the hospitality we’ve received all over the world.
  • Our business and message won’t be able to spread and grow in the manner we want if we stay on the road. I’ve been leveraging coffee shops, intermittent wifi connections, and picnic tables for two years. The next evolution of the business requires some more stable working space. 🙂

A couple friends have asked me whether or not this decision was made as a result of our miscarriage on the road. The answer is: Yes & No.

No, it’s not a direct response – we were already on this path. Honestly, it didn’t really factor in the decision much itself.

Yes, if only for the reason that it was a catalyst for self-reflection.

When Courtney and I were starting off our journey, it was bringing Milligan home from the hospital in the days after her birth that opened our eyes. We didn’t start traveling just because Milligan was born. However, the experience granted us the clarity to see the life the we really wanted to be living.

The same is true this time around. Our loss simply gave us the clarity to step back from the day-to-day hustle and the clarity to see what we really wanted for the next year or two of our life. In this case, it was choosing between Portland and Asheville to settle in for a year.

Once you’ve been given the vision of what you’re life could be – and you know you want it – why wait?

What good is all the freedom in the world, if you aren’t willing to use it?

Two years ago, freedom was traveling the world with our one-year-old daughter.

A year ago, freedom was buying an RV in cash so that we could visit all our friends and explore potential areas of the U.S. to spend time in.

Last month, freedom was the ability to move into a (slightly bigger than we need, but great) home here in a wooded area of Asheville. 🙂

Next year, I have no idea what freedom will mean to us. But I’m excited to know our possibilities are nearly limitless – as long as we can gain the clarity to be honest with ourselves.

The clarity to know what freedom means to you may be the most powerful currency in the world.

What’s next for Man Vs. Debt?

To be honest, in the first 6 months of 2011 I’ve been disappointed in my commitment to the community here.

I underestimated the hectic nature of our mobile lifestyle, which led me to underdeliver over the last few months. I haven’t been producing the amazing content that I’m capable of. I’ve been giving my C-game, instead of my A-game.

I’ve been mediocre, which for this community is simply unacceptable. You deserve better!

So I’ve done the only thing I know how to do. I’ve taken massive action to break free of the funk of mediocrity.

For the last two months, I’ve been buried working on several exciting changes:

  • First, I’ve hired two full-time team members to help me take things to the next level. I’ll introduce Joan and Dustin to you soon. Working with this new team has been amazing. We are starting to realize how much is possible (it’s exciting!).
  • We’re also going to be switching the content direction of the site. Instead of leading with personal updates “hey look at me I’m in XYZ city,” we’re going to be leading with amazing resources and content. Specifically, we are going to start a weekly video Q&A series. We’ll also be focusing on covering more case studies from real people going through similar struggle in achieving freedom in different areas of their lives.
  • Lastly, I’ve been pouring myself into the next evolution of our premium products. After studying behavior change and psychology for nearly 2 months without coming up for air, we’ve completely revamped our You Vs. Debt course. We broke the course down into daily lessons and actions for 6 weeks straight. I spent two weeks filming the new videos with a dedicated video editing team (think DVD quality). This is the largest scale project I’ve ever undertaken – but the final product is *amazing* (take that mediocrity)! I can’t wait for you to see it – and in the next few days I’ll give you a peek. 🙂

Here’s the summary: Over the next month you’ll see a lot of changes around the site. We’ll be re-releasing You Vs. Debt, and we’ll be launching the first site redesign in several years. We’ll also be starting our weekly Q&A video series & a string of case studies and interviews of community members achieving inspiring results.

Most importantly, Courtney and I are extremely happy to be entering Chapter 5 of our journey.




61 thoughts on “Chapter 5: Asheville and The Evolution of Man Vs. Debt”

  1. Congrats on finding a place you feel comfortable enough with to settle down for a bit! I have some friends in Asheville and have heard nothing but good things (PS – if you have a chance to see a performance by Baraka Mundi/the Bandit Queens of Bellydance, don’t miss it!!!).

    I know we’re all looking forward to the content you have in store for us, so best wishes as you get settled in to your newly-stable lifestyle! 🙂

  2. I’ve been wondering what you’ve had in the works that last few months. Congratulations on a new chapter. My husband and I really enjoy reading your updates. Too bad we missed you when you were here in Austin. I look forward to the new content.

  3. It sounds like a fun and exciting chapter and I am glad to hear we will be hearing more from you and can’t wait to see what you have in the works for us !! I find your site very inspirational !!
    I hope this is a fun and interesting chapter for you guys, can’t wait to see what you do next !!

  4. Baker, it is fantastic to get this update today! I’ve actually been thinking about you over the past couple of months, wondering what you were up to as I hadn’t seen many new updates. I am very excited for you and the fam and the new MvD team. It is great to hear about this new chapter you all (and us too, I suppose) are beginning and I can’t wait to hear more. Cheers!

  5. YAY! It’s so good to hear from you! This is all great news and I’m honored that you are sharing it with us. I admit to feeling as thought I’ve let YOU down by giving only a ‘C game’ in You v. Debt. I didn’t make the most of your content, but I do continue to reference it on a regular basis, as we plow through our debt-ditching and reframing how we look at budgeting and spending.
    Good luck and many blessings to you, Courtney, and Milligan!

  6. So excited for your move. I am traveling from Chicago to Cincinnati, then hooking up with 9 girlfriends where we grew up and lived in Cincy then on to Isle of Palms SC for a reuinion. We are stopping along the way in May 2012 in Ashville for a Biltmore visit. Been following your blog forever, if I don’t have time to stop and meet I will certainly give you a call. You will love that area. At age 68, I applaud you for your chosen lifestyle, attitude and work style. God bless as you move on to your next chaper.

  7. I’m so happy for you and Courtney – you are two of my favorite people on the planet (and little Milli too!). Two things that have always stood out about you are your clarity and humility. The content of Man vs. Debt is always stellar – looking forward to more Baker goodness in the months ahead.

    Remember to put your feet up from time to time….everything is working out as it should.

    Rock on my friend.

    Hugs, Steph

  8. I was wondering what happened to you guys – haven’t seen much on my feed reader. I figured you were probably settling down, and Asheville is a great choice! We were just there in June, and spent a week hiking in Pisgah and even climbed looking glass rock.

    Looking forward to your updates, sounds like you have a lot of great stuff planned!

  9. Really looking forward to seeing the next phase of your journey play out! We recently visited friends in Portland, OR and I can see why so many love it there! I’m guessing Asheville is pretty awesome too if you are picking that as a destination.

  10. Living vicariously, through you and your family, at times. Debt is something I have been tackling and making progress. Looking forward to the new site and hearing what you have to say!

  11. Baker-

    I envy you – Asheville is one of the prettiest places in one of our prettiest (and vastly underrated) states.

    Truly amazing country. Y’all enoy your stay!


  12. Wow Baker I really appreciate the honesty/genuine blog post. I am kind of new to your site just found you maybe begining of this summer and have been checking back every so often for some new posts. This is great that your back on your game and giving it your A game. Keep it up because you and your family are an inspiration. I am starting my site kind of been not as consistent as I would like to be. I am trying to find my direction as well between personal stories and the journey of where I am going. Anyways can’t wait to see the new program. Would love to interview you sometime for my blog. Will send you an email soon.

  13. Asheville! What a fun city.

    There is adventure in putting in some roots (even for a year) somewhere. Just because the RV is parked it doesn’t necessarily mean things are slowing down anytime soon!

  14. Dude, this is some exciting stuff. I love the fact that I (we) have been apart of this journey through the years and thank you so much for sharing it with us 🙂

    I can’t wait to see the upcoming launch with You Vs. Debt. I know it’s going to be killer.

    Keep it up baby!

  15. Good for you guys. Keep us posted and let us know how it goes along the way. If I’m ever there I would like to see you for coffee. Heard that that area is a new tech hub and a great place for a family. Looking forward to the updates! By the way are you guys keeping the RV for future road trips? Could be a cool way to have you write off some future travel and get some cool interviews.

  16. Good luck, Baker, on your new chapter!! I’m looking forward to some exciting and valuable changes to coming our way.

  17. We stayed in Asheville, NC for an anniversary when we lived in Virginia Beach many years back. It was very nice and seemed very eco-friendly and health oriented at least from our very short stay. I really enjoyed the area and Virginia Beach and North Carolina hopefully things are getting better since the hurricane hit. Not sure if you were deciding against Portland Maine or Portland, OR but I live near Portland, OR. Enjoy the time to settle in again! Looking forward to seeing what your knew material looks like. My husband and I could really use some good support to get through our own struggling financial picture. Sure is nice to get some positive inspiration!

  18. Congrats on settling down (for now!) in Asheville! My brother lives in Charlotte, NC and we visited Asheville with him a couple years ago… it is beautiful. And I remember sitting outside a little cafe watching musicians perform, just like in your photo on this post. There is also a huge Slippery Rock in a forest/park area near Asheville (can’t recall the name off-hand), but you can put your swimsuit on and slide down this giant rock with fresh water coming down from the mountains… it’s wonderful! Good luck on the latest chapter in your book of life!

  19. Hey congratulations Baker! Sounds like a wonderful choice. Never been to Asheville, but have heard wonderful things. And my favorite magazine is published there!
    This seems like the perfect step in the evolution of your family. And I’m looking forward to all you have to share in the coming months!

  20. Baker,

    Congratulations and much continued success. I’m jealous as I’m just getting started with a new blog of my own after several years of hiatus…but consider it a warm jealousy. Many happy returns.


  21. Welcome to NC! Asheville is an amazing spot to raise a family. I know I echo everyone who has commented before to say that I can’t wait to see what unfolds next. I just discovered your blog about a month ago because it is one of the *few* websites that my company has blocked at work yet, and I went back and read your entire archives in a matter of a few weeks… then was waiting with baited breath for you to update again once I finished. I’m psyched to hear what you’ve been up to and see the great content to come. Woohoo! You’ve truly been an inspiration for me and spoken to something I’ve been feeling for a long time (bogged down by “stuff.”) Enjoy settling in to your new home & lovely Asheville. (Wander down the highway to Winston-Salem and come to see some ACC games!)

  22. I am in the Raleigh area just for today. Sorry, but I won’t make it all the way to Asheville. I am glad to hear you are happy with the next chapter in your life.

  23. The updates and everything else going on sounds exciting and I can hardly wait. I am so happy that you found a place to settle at least for now.

  24. Hey Adam,

    I admire your courage, and how you toured the US.

    And about your commitment to the community, it’s a process and I’m sure it’ll just be better from here on 🙂



  25. Interesting…my aunt and uncle spent many years traveling in an RV and when they decided to settle down, they chose a small town just outside of Asheville. My husband and I have that as one of the spots we’ll consider retiring to. (We are getting tired of Houston’s heat but don’t want to return to northern winters.) I’ll look forward to reading what you have to say about it.

    And thanks for providing detailed information about the RV life. We want to do a little of that, too.

  26. Asheville is beautiful. Enjoy settling down in the beautiful state of NC. One of my friends is moving there September 1 and will be fresh to the local music scene. If you see Michael McFarland playing somewhere, go check him out – he’s great and so is his music!

  27. So exciting to find a place to stick for a while! Congrats! And excited to see what you have up your sleeves for YVD and MVD!!! Good on ya! 🙂 Happy Housewarming!

  28. Welcome to NC. I live on the eastern side, however my wife’s family lives in Hickory. I love the landscape; rolling foot hills which slowly transition to the mountains. You have choosen the most beautiful area of NC.

    Quick note, as southerners, we don’t handle snow that well. If the weather is calling for 1/2 an inch of snow, expect the town to shut down and the bread and milk to disappear in the store ; )

  29. Baker, What happened to financial transparency. Seeing you pay down the debt was the very thing that had me following this site. No update since April….? You are either too busy or not wanting to disclose. At least say one way or the other.

    1. Matt, it’s a combination of being busy & the fact that the regular updates posts have been trending down in engagement and interest lately. In addition, I know have employees – and while I have no problem disclosing my income – I’m not sure I’m o.k. with disclosing theirs.

      I’ll likely move to a static page that refreshes to show my personal profit, debt, and general savings/assets – and is updated once a month. 🙂

      1. I agree you shouldn’t disclose your employees income, but I don’t think the group wants to see their income or your income quite as much as we like seeing your debt go down. If you have a particularly good income month and “nuke” some of those military named debts, you can explain that you had a good month (no numbers disclosed) and were diligent in paying down more than you normally do. Please continue to lead by the example you started. This is after all Man(or Baker) versus DEBT. You can regal us later with tales of internet millions, after the debt is paid off. 🙂

        Thanks again for a great site!!! You have me beat on the simplifying side of life and freedom and a great inspiration that I can do it too. I am ahead on the debt side, I can almost smell being debt free from where I am. I am hopefully six months away at most.

  30. As always, thanks for sharing what is going on in your life. I love the way you all approach life’s decisions and milestones and enjoy reading about it. Good luck in Ashville – I’m jealous that you are living where you want to.

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  32. Congrats on finding a spot you like, and showing us how to really look around. I’ve barely visited Asheville once, but it is a lovely place – a good fit for a lovely family. All the best!

  33. I can identify with you, although we didn’t roam the world. But my wife and I did spend 3 years living in Chile (yes, it was awesome!, please let me know if anyone wants more info about it and I’d be glad to write). Before that we had lived in Rhode Island and the Catskills of New York. But once we found Asheville we decided to stay, and we’ve been here 8 years already.

    We don’t think of it as becoming having become boring or giving up. Instead, we think it’s an incredibly interesting place to live and use as a base while we accomplish other goals.

    You’re going to love it. Welcome!

  34. As someone who was born and raised in North Carolina (Winston Salem area to be exact) and graduated college in the mountains at Appalachian State…welcome to a beautiful and amazing place to live 🙂

    Make sure you hit up Boone (where App is and an amazing place to visit) and the outer banks while you are here… North Carolina is amazing, I know you guys will love it!

  35. Asheville is my dream location. My husband just got word he has to go to the manufacturing plant there for his company. I am hoping it is such a mess we will need to move there to fix it. 🙂

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