He Said/She Said: FAQ How Did We Afford It?

He Said/She Said: FAQ How Did We Afford It?

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Our three year, seven continent tour of the world wasn’t cheap, but it cost less than most people expect.  Last week we revealed how much it cost us to travel the world for over 2.5 years.  The natural question people ask us after that is, how did you afford it? Here are our money-saving budget secrets.

HE SAID…

The internet is full of great information on how to save money.  Cut out expensive coffees, buy only necessities, eat in instead of going out…all of these things are guaranteed to increase savings.  In fact, I have yet to come across a money savings tip that won’t help people save money. So why then is it is so hard to save money?

The bigger question is: why can’t we stick with our goals?  After years of amateur research with with entrepreneurs to meeting people across the world: old habits are hard to break.  It sounds cliche, but it’t true, how many years of practicing our ways do we have?  A lifetime…it’s a habit.  This goes for anything major in life: saving money, losing weight, taking over the world. We have spent so much time doing things “our way” that it takes every ounce of effort to do it another way.  In short, according to Einstein, we’re all insane as we keep trying the same things, yet expect different results.

How then do we change our habits? It starts with a defined, tangible, long-term goal that you really want.  Having piles of money isn’t a tangible goal-retiring at 50 or having a mortgage paid off-are tangible because they have a real endpoint.  It isn’t something vague “looking good naked”-it’s fitting into a size 34 pants or being able to chase my grandchildren around until they get tired-that are something you can really get your heart and head around.  Without a defined, long-term, goal the struggles of overcoming the old you will overwhelm the desire to become the new you.

My long-term goal is to be financially independent.  This means no debt and no need to work for money.  Each time I think about doing something expensive, I force myself to ask, “how does this fit in my long-term goal?”  If I can’t honestly, rationally, explain how, I don’t do it.  It started with the big things: cars and housing, until now, years later, that long-term goal speaks up with small things.  Even drunken me doesn’t buy drinks at posh bars.  I buy black coffee instead of my much preferred dry cappuccino.  These things seem minor, but do you know how much $500 in spending a month actually costs?  $266,000 in after-tax cash.  Invested over my working life this should increase lifetime savings by over $1 million.  Think about that, not going out twice a month ($75/night), plus not buying coffee ($3/day), plus not having TV ($100/month), plus packing lunch ($8/working day) earns one million dollars.  These seemingly small things get me closer to my lifetime goals, day-after-day.

The problem with sticking to long-term goals is that they far away…everyday.  It requires giving up immediate things, things that can be touched and felt, for a future that may never come to be.  This is why goals need to broken up into small things to create habits, new habits, that replace old ways of doing things.  The first step is taking stock to understand the root of troubles.  What are your soft spots?  Things on sale?  Free food at work?  Then make short-term goals to overcome each thing.  Maybe it is packing your lunch for two days a week for a month, then three days, then four. Then take on another thing, but don’t let small setbacks derail you.  Understand what causes setbacks, learn from it, and try to avoid that cause in the future.  Accomplishing the smallest goals will empower you to make bigger goals.

I’ll be completely honest: traveling the world was not our goal.  Our goal was living consciously and being financially secure.  We did that by changing our habits, eating healthy, eliminating debt and saving money month-after-month.  Then we realized we wanted to see the world and, best of all, that we could.  We could because of the decisions we had made prior, because of how we overcame our urges and set up our lives to save, not spend, our income. Traveling the world became the goal, but our savings were the enabler.  Accomplishing the little things: from cutting out TV to building a nest egg, made us certain we could accomplish bigger challenges like living from a backpack for an indefinite period.  Looking back today, the accomplishment of saving and traveling pales in comparison to knowing that we can set and accomplish goals in the future.

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SHE SAID…

To afford a trip around the world you have to get in budget travel mode far before you start traveling.  I’m not suggesting you seek out street stalls in your home town or spend your weekends staying in 16 bed dorms.  However, I suggest you think about cheaper forms of entertainment, how much you want to spend on rent and if that dinner out is worth three days of travel in India.  Once you have adjusted to this mind set, saving is easy.

Having friends over instead of going adds up to thousands of dollars a year in savings.

In the months leading up to our world tour we rarely ate out, preferring to cook and eat at home.  Instead of marathon nights on the town we opted for happy hour instead.  We chose to live in a more affordable apartment and serve as the caretakers for a reduction in our rent.  When my favorite store had a sale I really thought about whether I needed anything even if it was 50% off.

All of these little decisions every day helped us live our dream.  We constantly kept our eye on the goal and thought about every purchase we made.  It wasn’t always easy to turn down an invite for a night out, but we loved hosting dinner parties with our friends instead.  Every month as our savings grew we we enjoyed eating in and calling it a night at the end of happy hour.

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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