“You must have/have saved a lot of money.”
“How did you go about saving money?”
“Okay, tell me how much money you need to take a year off and go backpacking”
“I wish I had money. I would definitely go travelling”
That’s the way my conversations go when I tell them about the adventure I’m having. It makes me think that if money was not an issue I’d be sure to bump into them somewhere on the road. Although, personally money was not the number one factor when I made the decision to quit my job and go travelling, I do accept that money definitely was one of the factors. And when people want to make me believe that the reason they are unable to travel is because they do not have enough money, I wanted to help them at least get rid of the most important worry of their by helping them save money.
So here I am sharing with you some ways that I used to save money and finance my trip.
1. Make saving money your number one priority
Remember my post about de-cluttering your life to achieve your travel dreams where I said that you should make doing everything related to your dream? So if you think that lack of money is what’s stopping you from travel as much as you wish, why not focus on saving as much money as possible. As I said money is neither the most important nor the only thing that should make or break your decision to step on the road.
But having said, until and unless you are one of the Mark Boyles or Puneet Sahnees of the world most of you would want to take the more traditional approach to backpacking. Therefore do not be among those thousands to queue up for the next iPhone. The iPhone 5 costs a whooping 45000 INR in India. Money enough to backpack around India for at least 3 months. Think whether you really need whatever you are buying. A way lot of people suggest is to postpone whatever you feel like buying for a couple of months. If after 2 months you still feel the need to buy it, then go ahead. I have taken this a bit longer. I have wanted to buy a laptop for more than a year now. Not buying it though has not made a considerable difference. Save! Save! Save!
2. Decide on your travelling style.
Not everyone wants to pack a couple of t-shirts and a pair of jeans in a backpack and step on the road and hitchhike all throughout their journey. Some may want to stay in luxury hotels, eat at fancy restaurants and fly first class all the way. Decide on your way of travelling. Do you like luxury or are you the more ‘roughing it out’ types? Or may be somewhere in between? Also decide why are you travelling? Is it just a small career break before you jump on to the next job? Or do you never want to get back to that cubicle again? Answering such questions will help you decide how much you need to save? If its just a 6 month trip in between your college and job, your ways of funding the travel as well as the amount of corpus may be different as compared to you and your spouse wanting to go on an indefinite RTW trip.
Answering questions such as these will help you deciding on your budget and saving accordingly.
3. Have a plan.
Having said all that, you cannot just save get up one day and start saving money. You need to have a plan to achieve your financial targets. Do an assessment of your incomes and expenses. Think about how much do you tend to save usually at the end of the month? What are monthly commitments that you just cannot avoid like at a loan or a rent? Are there ways to defer that to a later period? Then you could start looking at expenses where you can cut down. Like number of times you go partying in a month. Or impulse purchases you make.
Tim Ferris gives and interesting templates to plan finances required to fulfill your dreams. And his articles on his blog too give a lot of insight. But a notepad, a pen and focusing your mind is equally effective in chalking out the financial plan on your own.
4.Stick to the plan but be flexible.
There is no point making a plan and sticking on your bedside table so that you see it first thing every day in the morning, and then go and spend all the cash as if the plan never existed. Nobody’s forced you into making it and nobody will force you to stick to it. Realize that you made it so that you could do something that you said that you always wanted do. It’s all about ‘You’. If you do not do what is required then be you will have to replace that plan at your bedside with a picture of your dream destination and be content with that. I say it’s better to replace that paper with a picture of yours at the destination.
But there may be certain situations though when there are some unavoidable and unforeseen expenses coming your way. When such situations occur, factor those in and make changes to your plan accordingly.
Saving money is one hell of a job. You will have to cut down on indulgences that you previously enjoyed without having second thoughts. And at times you’d see that the corpus not growing quickly enough. You may wonder what is the point of all this delayed gratification and why not break the piggy bank and soothe down your nerves with some retail therapy. Don’t. Being patient would be one of the toughest things to be, but it’s definitely worth it.
Remember that all the above is just a plan to achieve your financial goals but in no way is this list comprehensive enough. This post is a mere outline of how to go about saving money instead of just haphazard way like putting half of your salary in the bank and then living the rest of the month like a pauper. There will be some practical ways to saving money which I will be talking about in the next post of Travel More Live More series. Until then chart out your own financial goals for travelling the world. Cheers!