5 Ways I Saved BIG at Home In Order to Travel BIG Later

It’s the leading cause of lack of world exploration… money. I’ve heard it countless times in every shape and size. Young people want to take off to see the world, but with all their expenses, putting money away for a trip abroad never seems like an option much less a priority. How can they afford to take a trip abroad? For one, choosing an inexpensive country will get you a long way, but regardless, you’re going to have to save up some money, and what better time to start than now. It may appear a quite daunting task, but don’t fret, a few little sacrifices and some dedication will get you there. Here’s exactly how I did it broken down for you. Ignore it or use it as a blue print, but don’t say travel is impossible.

I’ll start off with the biggest potential for savings, rent. It’s likely your biggest expense so cutting it down, even a small percentage, can go a long way. My rent was on average $300 lower than everyone else on the block and lower than all my friends in the area. I’ll be the first to admit that it was a pretty lucky find, but if I hadn’t of come across it, then my search would have continued. I also was willing to settle for less in certain areas. For example, I decided a great location made up for the house’s rickety nature and the fun roommates were worth cleaning up after.
Savings: $300 X 12 Months = $3,600/year

No Car Payment
I’ve been driving around my 1992 Nissan Stanza since I got my license. I love that car and it meets all my needs. Sure it’s annoying when the passenger window isn’t cooperating but is it really that big of a deal? I could afford a new car but what would that get me? A little more horsepower and a tad more luxury. New car or travel? Not a tough question to answer in my opinion.
Savings: $200 X 12 Months = $2,400/year

Shorter Commute
Initially, I lived pretty far from my work. That lasted all of one month. Not only was it a huge waste of my time driving back and forth, it also was a huge waste of money. I immediately started looking for a place closer and ended up cutting my commute by 35 miles each day. Times that by 5 a week, 52 a year and $4 a gallon and you can a bunch of extra cash on your hands.
Savings: 35 miles / 20 MPG X $4/Gallon X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/year = $1,820/year

Pack a Lunch
You’d be amazed how fast money disappears when you’re eating out on a daily basis. Early on, I decided that Fridays were an eat out day while I’d bring my own lunch Mon-Thurs. Sure I made exceptions and slipped up when I got the “Pho?” instant message on a cloudy day, but on a whole, I was pretty consistent. Now, I’m being extremely conservative in assuming that eating out costs around $10. Usually its more. On the other hand, we’ll say that eating a sandwich that you brought from home or perhaps even some leftovers from last nights dinner averages out to $3.
Savings: $7/meal X 3 meals/week X 52 weeks/year = $1,092/year

TV, Movies and Data
I convinced my roommates that paying for HBO and who knows how many extra channels was a waste of money. If we have ESPN, then I figured we were pretty much all set. Also, I lowered the data package on my phone. 95% of the time I’m at work or home using the WiFi and for when I’m not, there’s Onavo (magical data shrinker). Finally, I enjoy watching a movie in the theater just as much as the next guy, but for $10, lets make this a bi-annual occurrence instead of monthly.
Savings: [$20/month (Cable) + $10/month (Movies) + $15/month (Data)] X 12 months = $540/year

Add all that savings up and its more than I spent on my entire trip! Yea, pretty hard to believe so I did all the calculations twice. And don’t even get me started on gourmet coffee or cigarettes. Those are real money pits that I never touch. I’ll leave those calculations up to you.

Having talked about what I did cut back in, I’d like to quickly point out that I wasn’t passing on all the fun or avoiding spending money on all the time things I actually need. I never stopping eating out completely and going out to bars with friends was still a priority. A few beers isn’t going to break the bank. I also kept my gym membership going along with paying for my soccer team dues. The internet (a necessity) was always going strong at my place and I was even able to pay off one of my student loans. Take care of what needs your attention and leave some space for fun. You should still be able to put some money away.

So now you have all this money that’s not getting drained away after every paycheck. Find the best savings account out there and put it under lock and key. Be patient and don’t let the newest piece of technology catch your eye. Remember, you got big plans. You’ll do things that will make you forget you ever had a crappy car or missed the latest Marvel movie premiere. You’ll have crazy stories and memories to share with your friends and family for years to come. You’ll be better informed on international issues to go along with your better world view. Can you put a price on that?

8 thoughts on “5 Ways I Saved BIG at Home In Order to Travel BIG Later

  1. You know what’s cool? I’m getting ready to start my journey and I came here looking for advice. Only to find I’m already on the right path (except lunch, I tend to eat out a lot). But I have no internet or TV. No car. Cheap rent utilities included. And it’s true, my account has ballooned. People waste so much on things they want and don’t need. I told my friend, spend less time “treating yourself to what you want” (those were her words; I said it was plain consumerism, but I’m not one to bullshit) and more time loving what you have. Anyway, maybe we will cross paths. Good luck.

    • That’s great Faelan! Sounds like you’re well on your way to meeting your goals and setting off on an adventure. Keep it up!

  2. hey Phil,

    A friend had asked me the following question question that really hit a chord with me. “Would you rather see the world while you are young and can do the things you want to do, or continue working a job you despise to make ends meet until you can retire and potentially be physically unable to see the places you’ve dreamed of?” Your blog is the beginning of my world travel plans. Thanks for all the good information.

  3. Can’t remember how I stumbled across your blog but every time I feel down about my dwindling current account (but my ballooning savings account!), as well as being bored rigid at my job, I reread your posts and remind myself it’ll all be worth it next September. Gourmet coffee is my weakness, but I got a loyalty card and only have it once a week so that’s my compromise! Hope to see more posts from you, they’re keeping my wanderlust going!

    • Awesome! It will definitely be worth it when you’re sitting in some exotic location with all your newly made friends thinking about what the local cook is about to whip up for your hungry stomach… all while watching the most amazing sunset!

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