How Do You Afford To Travel So Much?

DISCLAIMER: This post is a bit difficult to write, it required me to be completely open and honest with our finances and to a degree our financial history. I recognize that as you read this many of you will have dealt with much more in the way of debt than I have. I also recognize that I am writing this from a place of privilege. This post and series of budgeting posts is written about my experience and how I am able to afford the lifestyle I have. I recognize that it is not always *this easy* for everyone!




How do you afford to travel so much? That's probably the number question I get asked by friends, family, people I've just met who know about the blog, or follow me on Instagram. So I've decided to open up about what our life really looks like day-to-day, how we save, and how we plan for the future. And while for now we don't have any trips planned, we do have our wedding coming up this year, plus we are always looking to go to new places.

Budgeting is something that a lot of people find difficult. It requires a lot of planning and commitment. It's really easy to have a bad day at work (or week),  and instead of cooking dinner you go out, or order in, I am definitely guilty of doing that. Or maybe you are fed up with your wardrobe and go on a shopping spree. Sometimes you just want to feel good and spending money can give you that feeling temporarily. BUT it adds up quickly and then suddenly just having a bit of debt can feel  suffocating, you don't know your way out of it or how to get back on top and on track of it. Knowing how to create and stick to a budget is a great way to learn to save some money while indulging in the good things life has to offer. 

I am very fortunate to have never been in any serious debt (by my standards). I am lucky to have had parents that paid for my university and I was able to work throughout university to pay for my rent. When I needed to focus on my grades and stop working, I was able to move home and focus on school rent free. Not everyone comes from the same background and debt can feel like the weight of the world on your shoulders grinding you down.

This fall was the firs time I had any significant debt and it was all of my own making. My partner and I quit our jobs at the end of April and went travelling for 9 weeks. When we came back in the beginning of July we still had some money saved and our plan was to move to Montreal right away and start work. BUT more travel opportunities came up, as did time with our families, and the idea of having a summer off like we did in elementary school was actually an option. So we postponed our move until September and lived off our savings, when we ran out of money we lived off our credit cards. Not the smartest, but to be honest we had great credit scores and we thought we had a good handle on our spending. Over the summer we ended up going to LA, San Francisco & Nashville, plus driving out to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, visiting Montreal and going to a few cottages.

I wouldn't have traded those trips and time spent with family for anything in the world, but we definitely didn't have as good of a grip on our spending as we thought. We moved to Montreal with about 11, 000$ in debt. 8000$ of which was on credit cards and 2500$ which my parents lent us because we had to pay first and last months rent because we were unemployed and our landlords wanted a sign of good faith (although in the province of Quebec this is 100% ILLEGAL, they are not allowed to ask for last months rent!)

For the first time I suddenly felt the weight of debt. I was counting every dollar we spent, trying to plan out how to pay it all back and also realizing we were going to New York City for my dads birthday and with our credit cards maxed out we were going to need to make money quickly (in about 6 weeks), pay off part of our cards only to max them out again. I really felt like we had made a mistake moving to Montreal and I had no idea how to get out of our debt.

Then after NYC the opportunity came up to go to Iceland over the holidays with two of my best friends. I knew we couldn't afford it, but I also knew I wasn't going to miss this opportunity. I think we can all see where my priorities are and a pattern I'm developing! Thats when I started putting aggressive saving measures in place. I knew we were capable of doing it since we had done it the year before in planning for our big trip. So I started writing down how much money I expected we would make, what our monthly costs were and how fast we could save. We worked hard picking up all the extra hours we could at work, ate a lot of rice and curried lentils and we successfully paid off about 3500$ of our debt by Christmas. We also were able to buy everyone in our family gifts. However going to Iceland meant once again we were spending more money and putting it all on credit cards. But again, worth it.

So here we are, January 24, 2019 and what is our debt like?

3000$ on Nicks credit card
5200$ on mine
3000$ to my parents- I initially only borrowed 2500$ from them but they are always so generous that when I borrow money from them I usually throw an extra 500$ on top of what I owe them, call interest if you want!

The grand total of debt right now is 11, 200$

Our plan is to pay it off by May 2nd of this year.

The way we save is by basically just putting huge chunks of our pay checks aside. I like to keep track of everything in a journal, I prefer pen and paper instead of a spread sheet. This year, I'm trying a slightly new way time frame for budgeting. I've created a budget for every two weeks that matches up with our pay checks. I use to do it literally day by day and I will still keep track of the daily spending but in terms of projecting what we will make, I've decided on doing it every two weeks.

This is what my budget journal looks like!


You can see that I haven't allocated any money for groceries or anything fun, like going out with coworkers or having a date night. At the moment our fridge and freezer is pretty full so for now, I am not looking at groceries, and as for date nights or nights out, as those opportunities come up, I'll record them in my book! This is just a BARE MINIMUM of what we have going out and what we hope is coming in.

I like to have an estimated budget (left side) and then I keep track of everything on the right. I've done this up until the end of June so that I can predict how much money we will (hopefully) have saved by then.

I wish I could tell you there was some magic trick to budgeting, but it's hard and requires commitment. Sometimes you have to stay in, or eat boring dinners (something we hate!) or not go out for that drink after work. Sometimes date night is just splurging on a 12$ bottle of wine and watching a movie at home. Saving requires disciple and commitment to your vision for the future. I know it can get you down and I am VERY privileged to have not had more debt in my life, most people I know my age were faced with 30,000$-40,000$ of debt after university and I can't imagine what that feels like but I believe that the way we save and budget can be applied to school debt as well.

Going forward I'll be posting about how to create your first budget, and I'll be updating every week how our savings are going. I'll be posting every Thursday on Instagram Stories how our week went (our work is closed Tues/Wednes so Thursday is our Monday!)

If you're interested in creating your own budget or have questions drop me a line in the comments and follow along on Instagram @thenomadicbee









Comments

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