cashing in & checking out (not the definitive how-to)

REBECCAAMBERPHOTOGRAPHY.-1087 copy We are close (closer). It was apparent early on that a lot of lifestyle shifts would be necessary in order to bankroll this kind of a trip, and our friends at Drive Nacho Drive helped set the wheels in motion for us. This paragraph from them rings as true today as it did almost two years ago:

“Throughout this process, people have asked us how we’re able to afford to pick up and drive around the world when we’re so young. Trust fund? Ponzi scheme? Nope, just good old fashioned penny pinching. It’s actually not so hard; the toughest part is making the “all or nothing” decision to actually do it.”

The first step en route to being en route was simply setting a clear intention of our plans. What really started it all, and what really gave us permission to believe this would become a reality for our family, was a move that seems obvious in its necessity-we made the decision that our collective efforts would be focused on this singular goal. It has always been a priority of ours to leave debt-free and return debt-free, a pretty maddening ambition in a world of consumer debt. We did not become reckless savages in pursuit of financial security: no black-market sale of crucial organs, Henley’s education fund was not to be touched, and we aren’t prepared to re-mortgage the house to finance our wanderlust. We determined that however appealing in its simplicity and immediacy, selling the house and all of our worldly possessions isn’t the answer for us. copy Believing in our ability to stay the course and trusting the process, even when it has meant significant backwards momentum, has been an emotional challenge that I haven’t always met well (read: I am prone to overly-dramatic spirals of despair). At times even the great accomplishment of paying off our consumer debt has seemed insignificant and been overshadowed by the molasses-slow accumulation of our travel funds. There have been bumps in the road, detours, out-of-commission bridges, and just times that the responsibilities of life have’t actually cared that we are trying to save for a Grande Adventure. Our house still needed a new roof, brakes need to be replaced, and we are still working on completing a five-year house renovation. The purchase of the van certainly did nothing to propel us towards said goal of leaving debt-free. We wanted safe, relatively reliable, ready-to-go, and totally rad. We paid for it, but every time we get in that van as a family it pays us back. I will say, though, that learning to love the idiosyncrasies of a 30-year-old vehicle with the price tag of a new truck required a period of adjustment.  Setting the intention that we want to travel long-term in our van influenced a shift in our daily life that slowly began translating to financial contributions to our travel fund. We make progress where we can in the areas we can control; save for a few splurges (mostly van-related), we make mindful consumer choices. changejar2I don’t want to be dramatic, but The Change Jar has changed my life. Put me in Grand Central Station and I could pick-pocket my way to our first million. The change from Robbie’s pockets is in the travel fund before he knows which way is up. My ears can pick up spare change from across a crowded room and we now stop on the street to pick up nickles. If there is an occasion where I need to break a bill, any change-no matter the amount-goes into the jar. Consequently, but of relatively low priority to me, we never have coins for parking. Spare change floating around the house or my purse doesn’t seem like ‘free money’ anymore. I don’t buy a latte every time I can scrounge enough change to afford what I now consider an outlandishly expensive caffeinated beverage.  We are lucky to have great and understanding friends, friends that understand without judgement or public shaming that we aren’t going to join every group outing for sushi or extravagant coffee, and that if I bring a bottle of wine over it will be of the $10 variety. No insane tricks or tips, just a shift in perspective and some good old-fashioned penny pinching. We have streamlined our spending habits, or, actually cut them off at the ankles. Mostly, I now just exhibit some fucking self control. To be sure, I go crazy sometimes, because it keeps things interesting, but mostly I just try to keep it together. REBECCAAMBERPHOTOGRAPHY.-8325 It hasn’t all been watching fat stacks pile up and rolling around in a bed of twoonies. Every month I hit a wall and wallow-thinking our plans are in shambles. This usually occurs when the real world comes knocking and we owe things like insurance, strata fees, mortgage, school fees, et al. You would think that as this has happened consistently for the last two years I would have developed some coping strategies, but I generally just leave it to Robbie to reassure me that things will get back on course. We just try to keep our heads down and chip away, contributing to the travel fund as often as possible. It’s no secret that it is going to take a considerable amount of savings to travel full-time for a year overseas. I have done exhaustive research, made many spreadsheets, and struggled over simple addition more than I care to recount. Biggest take-away? Life on the road is not a vacation, so we can’t treat it as such. This means those cans of chickpeas are going NOWHERE in a hurry. The cost of driving around the world? Have a look: Drive Nacho Drive’s Cost of Driving Around the World

2 thoughts on “cashing in & checking out (not the definitive how-to)

  1. If you are coming to Vienna or close to it, I would be pleased to meet with you 🙂 I’m planning an europe trip for nex year 🙂

    1. Amazing! We would love to take you up on that offer. There is no set route at this point, we are hoping to just meet up with locals and take advice about places to visit. . . so it would be great to visit when we are in town. Thanks for the offer!

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