A commonly asked question lately has been about savings: How we’ve financially planned for this trip, and whether or not we’ve been able to stick to the plan.  I figured I’d write a little about our thought process here, although I am sure that every traveler has different methods of financially preparing for a big trip.  As a side note, I’ve noticed that many travel bloggers are hesitant to write about the monetary costs associated with their travels.  I am not one of those people, and honestly can’t understand why this subject is so personal.  In my opinion money is the number one reason why people don’t plan trips like this, and I can only hope that my discussions regarding this subject will motivated others to rethink this.  With that said, our story here isn’t all that interesting or unique.  But hopefully it’s of use to someone out there… 

About a year ago Dave and I started casually talking about the possibility of quitting our jobs and taking time off.  We hadn’t yet discussed the possibility of spending the time traveling.  Our focus was to take time to work on things that really meant something to us– to hopefully form a path that could lead us to careers as opposed to grinding away endlessly at our jobs (both of which appear to have little opportunity for advancement). What the major concern was for us, naturally, were financial matters.  We couldn’t fathom the idea of ever leaving work– we were far too dependent on it.  With far too many credit cards, each with every growing balances, a mortgage, and two sets of student loans there didn’t appear to be an option.  SO without really having much of a plan we decided the best thing to do was to get rid of the debt.  

It really was as simple as that.  We made that choice.  We stuck with it. 

We drew up a simple grid: each month across the top, all the credit cards down the side, the APRs, and the balances.  We posted it on our wall (a depressing daily reminder of where we were at).  We looked at our paychecks, came up with a month-by-month payoff plan and each month filled the grid out appropriately with each payment.  We assigned ourselves weekly allowances:

  • Spending money:  $30 each
  • Grocery Money: $50
  • Gas: $30
  • Savings: $65

We got rid of our debt cards and started spending only with cash.  When it was gone, there was no more spending for the week.  We cut coupons, we stopped eating out.  But most importantly, it caused us to really consider each expense we made. It hasn’t been easy, but realistically it hasn’t been all that bad either.  Just over a year later we are free of credit card debt, and our savings account actually functions as a savings account now.  It’s a concept we should have figured out a long time ago.  

When the trip started to become a reality for us we were in a position where we could have relaxed our stringent budget.  But by that time we had both grown rather fond of the way everything was set up.  We don’t miss our old lives at all.  Going out is a real treat now.  I find that I look forward to things more.  I have a bigger imagination for how to make things work without the dependancy of spending.

 Conveniently, conceiving this trip has been the best motivation to maintain our financial plan.  As the trip has continued to come together, we’ve become more unified, and have worked even harder to be aware of what we need versus what we want.  I don’t know when or where I learned to believe that taking time off wasn’t possible– I was so very wrong.  The entire way I view life has changed– I find solutions now as opposed to dead ends.  And I’ve discovered that the solutions are a lot easier to see now that i’ve removed the road blocks.

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