Wether it be leaving all behind to travel the world like us, or building up your own company, the fact is that taking a leap of faith many times requires (some) money. Here are some money saving tips that have helped us take the steps necessary to follow the life we want*:
1. Be realistic
While it would be great that we could all follow our dreams without worrying about how we are going to survive, it is simply not the case. Having a brainstorm (or multiple) about what your objectives are and how much they can cost, is a very important step. Be honest with yourself about your possibilities and your needs; there are many ways to figure things out and do a lot without much money, but you should consider all options beforehand to determine your goals, limits and possibilities.
Setting off into a world trip has always been a dream of mine, but I have not always had the means to make it a reality. Being poorly payed (yay human rights field!) for the majority of my adult life, I had to ignore it for some years. It was only once I got a semi stable job that we could start planning. And although it may have meant being quite unhappy at times (I’ll leave the details for another day), I’m incredibly grateful for the circumstances that allowed for us to do this.
2. Create a budget
While I’m all for the ‘save as much as you can and see what the outcome is’ method, having a target budget is incredibly helpful. Not only will it let you make informed decisions and determine your timeline, it also helps with motivation while you are saving. Setting a realistic budget will help make your future success more probable. The budget you set for yourself will of course be dependent on multiple variables that are many times confusing or even unforeseeable, but if you do your research (including reaching out to others that have taken your chosen path before) you should be able to plan some parts out.
In our case, we had to take into account the costs of insurance, special equipment and administration, on top of food, accommodation, transportation and other expenses. After looking into it, Warner set a travelling budget of 25 euros per day per person. Knowing we wanted to have the budget to travel for at least a year it was easy to determine a saving target.
3. Prioritise your saving
Wether it be 100 euros a month or 1000, saving normally means cutting back on your spending. When thinking it through there are many ways you can save (some cases of course need more thought than others).
Warner and I have been incredibly lucky in that it has been relatively easy for us to save our minimum desired budget. And the key to that in our case has been prioritising our saving. We don’t recommend cutting back on absolutely everything, because while this method is probably a faster way to reach your objectives, it is also an almost guaranteed way of making you miserable in the process. Instead, assess your current expenses and evaluate what truly adds value to your life; then focus your limited spending there.
We love travelling and eating above everything else, so this past year we have still gone on a big vacation (a 3 week road trip through the Balkans), taken multiple weekend trips, bought yummy fresh produce to cook our butts off, and even gone out for dinner occasionally. I have also spent a little bit of money (way less than I should) in helping out some great animal rescues I follow. Still sounds like a pretty good life, right?! The full picture however is that we haven’t gone to the movies, attended festivals, gone out partying, bought clothes or anything not essential, amongst other things. And another huge saving comes from not drinking or smoking.
This is not to say you should follow our method and stop going out to bars. If that is your priority, find another way of saving in a different aspect of your life. To an outsider it may seem like you haven’t cut back your spending at all, but that is the beauty of prioritising, it gives you the opportunity to still lead the lifestyle you want and save at the same time.
4. Be creative
While the ‘selling everything you own to travel the world’ step may sound pretty cliche, there is something to say about getting/saving money in more ways than just a conventional salary. You may be able to save on rent by moving into a smaller place or into your parent’s spare room, or on food by making sure you always get the offers at the local market. Or maybe you can use your talents to bake brownies or make bags that you can sell for a little something extra. Been there and done all of that!
There are many ways to make/save some money that are specific to you and your situation. In many aspects, saving money is about changing your mindset. Once that is achieved, half the battle is won!
Coincidentally, we have found that living a more sustainable and ethical lifestyle has helped us figure out ways of saving because of how conscious it makes you on your consuming habits (would you be interested in more of an insight on this topic?). And after being creative for a year and learning along the process, Warner and I also ended up selling everything we owned. And let me tell ya, penny by penny it added up and it was totally worth it!
5. Manage your spending
So you’ve managed to save all this cash and you are ready to charge at your dreams… be careful! Unless you’ve saved WAY more than your estimated budget required, you are still in no position to be careless with your spending. Starting something new means taking risks, but also foreseeing the unforeseeable. Having a contingency budget is important for when things go wrong.
In travelling this is fairly straightforward. Although Warner and I have a travelling budget of 25 euros per person per day, we are aiming to spend way less daily to be able to spend more in those moments that require it. Whether it be going kayaking, or an emergency visit to the hospital, if we decided to spend all our money everyday, there would be days we wouldn’t be able to afford. These are also expenses we have calculated to be sporadic. If in our planning stages we had decided we didn’t want to give up on any luxuries and do all the activities our hearts desired, we would have had to save much more, for a much longer period of time.
Again, be realistic with yourself about your needs and wants, and go live that dream life of yours!
* Please take into account that we are perfectly aware of our privileged position. Both Warner and I managed to have jobs for the 11 months prior to our trip. With no mayor expenses – we don’t have kids, a car, students loans or a mortgage to pay back – we were able to shape our lifestyle to cover all our needs while saving a little every month.
All photographs were taken in Nongriat, Meghalaya (India)