How did I manage to save enough money to travel for one year? First, what is ‘enough’? For me ‘enough’ meant the smallest absolute amount to get me to where I wanted to be — traveling alone for one year without working.
One of the many reasons I chose to travel Southeast Asia is its affordability compared to the rest of the world. I budgeted $10k for the entire year.
With this in mind, I set out to save as much as I could. This concept, thankfully, is not new to me. I’ve had a savings account for as long as I can remember and have always used it as a sort of adventure source. For my first such adventure, I saved $2k so I could fly up to NYC the summer before I started high school. I busted my ass the whole summer so I could spend it all in a week. It was glorious.
But back to the present adventure…
All in all, my goal was $15k ($10K for the trip & $5K to come back to).
I started ‘officially’ saving for this in January 2017 (although I always save money so I wasn’t starting at 0)… I’ve already saved more than what I initially wanted. BUT HOW? No, I do not make a million $$ and I also live in NYC (one of the most expensive places to live). I also realized I’ll need more than $10K — I’ll need a ticket there and back, special gear for my trip and I want to get my Yoga Teacher Training which is around $3K alone.
Come February, I’ll have what I need to make this happen. BUT HOW?
I have no intention on writing a savings guide… There are a billion amazing personal finance blogs out there. I’ve listed some of my favorites at the bottom. I do, however, want to share the main stepping points (if you will) to how I have managed to make my next adventure a reality.
Here are the steps I took to save enough money to afford a full year of travel without work (in Southeast Asia).
Be prepared to go outside your comfort zone. And for some, this may be like WAY far.
Stop eating out.
That’s step one.
But before you go to step two… You should really do step one first. When I say stop eating out, I mean stop eating out 100% of the time. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Snacks. Tapas. Dessert. Smoothies. Coffee. Ice cream. Whatever. Just stop it.
Ok. So, I’m not 100% off the good stuff, but 99% is very accurate (trust me, I’m a statistician). I budget to eat out 1 time a month and then Seamless usually gets the best of me — those evil doers — and I’ll order 1 time a month on top of that. That’s it. The only exception to this rule is when my mom & bestie came to visit me. Ok… So I’m not perfect. I definitely just went on an Ice-cream eating marathon. BUT for the vast majority I have eaten out no more than 2x per month since December 2016.
[My situation is different from yours. And everyone else. It’ll take everyone a different amount of time to save. However, if you’re eating out on a daily basis and you’re sitting there thinking there’s no way you can save money with your income… You 100% can. The question is do you want to actually put in the work? If not, then seriously who cares? No judgement. You want to eat out every day of your life and not save a penny in your savings. If that makes you happy than by all means ENJOY! (NOTE: I’m 100% not being sarcastic. You do you.)]
Not spending money on eating out is a HUGE reason why I’ve been able to save.
What’s considered ‘eating out’? Literally anything you buy that’s ready made. Anything. Even if it’s from the grocery store. You didn’t make it. You paid someone else to make it, therefore you spent more money than you had to.
If you don’t know how to cook. I’m very sorry. That sucks. But unless you’re incapable of learning, go teach yourself a new skill. Google (not to mention the endless stream of how to cook blogs out there) will teach you. It’s good for you and your bank account.
Now, whether this part of saving money is fun is arguable. But then again… Is any part of saving money fun? I’ve had to say ‘no’ to a whole lot of fun stuff, but my payout is going to be bomb diggity so it’s cool.
Disclaimer. My job (postable.com) has a weekly team lunch outing that lets me taste the wonders that is NYC restaurants without spending anything. What can I say? I’m a lucky gal.
Before you start thinking I make a million dollars. I don’t. I make a decent living and if I spent my money the way most people around me do, I wouldn’t have a penny left at the end of the month.
Want to start saving and are super confused? I’ll say this — if you don’t know exactly how much money you’re spending monthly on various things/bills etc. Start there. I check my mint.com account daily as a habit (been doing this long before I started saving for a year-long traveling endeavor).
What’s step 2 you say? I’ll get there. If you get step 1 down, everything else is cake.