So you quit your job and traveled the world. Now you’re broke with a passport full of stamps and memories to last 5 lifetimes. What next?
WARNING: This IS NOT one of those posts about how to get rich blogging.
I don’t think Alex and I will ever be rich financially. It’s okay though. I don’t aspire to have everything I’ve ever wanted and more because what does it really matter? When do we pass that imaginary thresh hold and have everything? Most likely, as soon as we have “everything”, we’ll find the next thing we want and we’re forever in a circle of discontent.
Alex and I are rich in memories, experience, love, and travel. Where some folks find comfort in money, we find our comfort elsewhere. It’s the perfect sunset after a day of climbing, the smell of the pines in Yellowstone, saltwater spraying against our faces, the parts of life that don’t cost a penny.
Being a forever traveler doesn’t mean we’re financially irresponsible. On the contrary I consider the two of us to be some of the more educated folks in our generation in terms of savings, wealth management, and debt control. Sure we may not have “a lot” of money but what we do have we invest wisely and with good management. Not having a steady paycheck requires us to budget and plan out our finances for months in the future.
Let’s break it down. You want to spend your life traveling? Drifting in the wind, going where you please, spending the day how you choose? Sound magical? It is, but it’s hard work.
- You will still have to work for a paycheck. You can’t just quit your job and magically fill your financial void by getting rich off Snapchat, press trips, Instagram, or however else the 0.01% of travel bloggers fund their travels. Even if you are one of the lucky ones to make money from your travels, you will still likely work your bum off fulfilling your freelance contracts. Instead of viewing your future as a blank slate where you will never work again, look at it in terms of months or even years at a time. Budget out how much money you need to survive each month. Save like crazy, go off and enjoy your freedom, and then go find a job to save up and do it all over again.
- We sometimes glorify people like Chris McCandless from Into the Wild, John Muir, Jack Kerouac, and similar visions roaming freely through their lives. But if you will remember, McCandless worked hard on the farm to fund his Alaska journey, Muir and Kerouac were both well-known and established writers. While each may not have been working consistently for a paycheck, they still worked hard for what they believed in.
- Even though you will have to work between travel stints, that doesn’t mean you need to stop traveling. Look at seasonal jobs – ski resorts in winter, summers in National Parks, tourist seasons in popular destinations, etc. Be resourceful and you’ll find an enjoyable gig that works for your nomad heart.
After our years on the road, I’m narrowing down my financial advice to 5 easy tips.
- Start an IRA as soon as you can. Don’t be ignorant. Plan for your future.
- Have an emergency fund for health issues, car problems, and other travel mishaps. I’d suggest a good 2k-3k for a single traveler. This is to never be touched unless you’re in a real emergency. (No, hanger or hangovers are not emergencies.)
- Have a financial threshold. This means when your bank account reaches a certain amount, you will go make some more money. It’s a lot easier to find an enjoyable job to fatten up your bank account when you’re not stressed out about what you’re going to eat for dinner.
- Don’t ever ever ever travel until your bank account reaches $0. I know many bloggers glamorize the moment when they withdrew the last few dollars from the ATM and then they had to really figure it out. Don’t be like them. Figure it out before you’re broke. It’s not glamorous. It’s stupid and irresponsible.
- Don’t get yourself into debt. Credit card debt, college debt, car debt, it’s all bad. If you need a car, save your money and buy a something reliable, not brand new. Don’t convince yourself that a $200/month payment for a shiny piece of metal is a good deal. Don’t get in over your head with your fancy piece of plastic where you swipe and ignore your monthly credit card payments. If you’re going to get yourself in college debt, sit down and think about how much you’ll make after graduation. Make sure you know how many years of work that degree will cost you. Evaluate if it’s worth it. If it’s worth it to you, good luck to you from the bottom of my heart.
Are you living paycheck to paycheck but can’t figure out how to start saving? Read our tips here on how to get started.
Roamwildandfree is not turning into a finance blog because there are enough of those out there. But the thing is, no one really talks about how to travel responsibly for extended periods of time. Either the finance gurus are telling their readers that all the traveling millennials are irresponsible or the travel bloggers are telling their readers to screw money and live for the moment.
Let’s start. How do YOU save money on the road?