How’s everyone’s week going? This is one of my pre-written posts, so right now my week is stressful for trying to get everything done before heading away on holiday. Blogging is my break from every day craziness, so often times it’s my bit of relaxing in a day.
I thought I would cover a topic today that I’ve been debating about for a while. When I talk about how much traveling I do, there’s always one question that comes along with it. Most people ask in a subtle way, but the thing I think most people wonder is “How are you affording all that travel?”
So I thought today I would share how I make it work for myself. Obviously everyone’s finances are very different, and money is a very sensitive topic, so this is not to say that it will work for everyone, but this is how I make it work for myself. I’ll be splitting this topic into a two parter: first, how to save for traveling, and then the next post, for later this week, will be how to make the most of the money you have for traveling! If anyone has specific questions, I’m happy to discuss through 🙂
So first up, is money inflow. I’m not going to say much about this because I don’t feel comfortable disclosing to the world how much I make. However, I will say that this is obviously a large component of what you will be able to afford. This is the starting point for the amount you can spend. I refuse to travel on debt, therefore any money that I spend on traveling is from money I actually have. I get paid a set amount each month, therefore, for any travel I want to do, I can only play around with my expenses.
Night view of Amsterdam
For your outflow of cash, there are two kinds of expenses- fixed and variable. Fixed are costs you have to pay each month and have no wiggle room- rent, car payments, electricity, water bills, etc. When I first moved to the UK, my goal was to set up my fixed costs to be as low as possible. Rent is very expensive in the UK, so I didn’t have much room around that. For my car, I drive a 2001 car which I bought with the money I had from selling my car in Canada. That eliminates a monthly payment I would otherwise have to pay. For my other bills, I strive to keep them as low as possible through just general things like turning off lights when I leave a room, and wearing a warm sweater at home rather than turning up the heat to live in a tropical paradise.
Variable expenses is where you can really play. These are costs which you know you will incur but can control the amount you spend- so things like groceries, entertainment, car expenses, gifts, etc. This is where I have tried to cut back the most. Back in Canada, I regularly went to yoga studios, and would spend hundreds of dollars on yoga classes. Now, I exclusively do yoga at home. I haven’t been to a studio in over a year. I miss the atmosphere of a group class, but for where I am at right now, it’s more important to me that I am able to spend that money on a flight somewhere. For groceries, I really aim to eat out as little as possible. When I work more than an 11 hour day, my job provides me with money to buy a meal, therefore most of the eating out I’ve done over the past few months has been free for me.
The cathedral in Milan
Other things that I do to save on costs:
- I barely ever go shopping. I think in the past 6 months I have bought myself a pair of jeans and a sweater. Total cost= £50
- Whenever I can, I walk somewhere. This reduces the amount of gas I need to put in my car
- I haven’t bought anything for my house. This has been a really tough one! When I first moved here, I had to buy the basics (plates, cutlery, towels, bedsheets, etc.) but I was lucky in that someone I worked with was moving in with his girlfriend, so he gave me a bed, couch, and a desk- all for £20. I bought a new mattress for the bed, a kitchen table, and that’s all I’ve purchased for my place. Despite the fact that I would love to have a comfortable couch that doesn’t sag in the middle, and a bed that doesn’t squeak everytime I move, or a storage container in my bedroom- I know that I’m only in the UK for a limited time. So instead, I put that money towards traveling.
- I generally keep my weekends that I’m not traveling, especially in the summer when I am traveling more, very low key. The less I do during the weekend, the more I can do when I’m traveling.
- I don’t really do any “extra’s” that I used to regularly enjoy in Canada. I do my nails at home, same with pedicures. I’ve had my hair cut twice in the past 20 months, and besides my birthday spa day, I haven’t had a massage or any other spa treatment.
The goal with variable costs is to make them work for you. I used to spend a bunch of money on stuff I didn’t really care about- like a coffee a day from Starbucks. But once you put together how much that coffee is truly costing you- it’s easy to start cutting things like that out. Now I make coffee and bring it into work with me!
Because my work busy season is January-March (and arguably can start as early as October), this also helps me save money. When you’re working all the time, it’s very hard to spend your money!
Now, of course you should also be saving money and putting it aside. I’m not covering that because for me, the money I have left after paying all my bills and my variable budget is what I can spend on traveling!
And then next comes…how to make your money spread a little further while on holiday?! That’ll be up in a few days. Let me know if there are any questions about how to budget.