Whoa man, if I had a dollar for the number of times I've been asked how the Wander Year crew could afford to travel for a year, I'd have all the money I need for a trip around the globe!
All of our situations were pretty unique. Some of us have worked throughout the year, some were aggressive savers, some sold assets, some raised money for the trip. No matter your situation, there are things you can do to afford to travel long-term.
This post is broken down into four sections: saving, cutting back, making extra money, and managing your finances. Let's go get this money, shall we?
Actually, before we do, full disclosure - this post contains some affiliate links. I know you're cool with win-win scenarios and that's what this is. I share information that's helpful to you and, if you choose to use it, I get a lil something for it - we all win. For some of these, you also get a bonus if you sign up...even better! I only share resources that I or a trusted friend has used and that have proven to be beneficial. Ok, NOW let's go get this money.
FIND WAYS TO SAVE
If you’re really trying to be fiscally fit, the gurus suggest you save 10% of your monthly income. Those of us who can’t save that much often opt out of saving totally. It’s like if we can’t make a 3 point shot, we don’t even try for the lay-up. It’s time to get some points on the board folks, here are some lay-ups you can easily make.
Automate Your Savings
If you haven’t already, set up an automatic savings plan with your bank. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, start small with $25 biweekly. It starts to add up and as you free up more money, you can increase your savings plan. Go do it.
Spend Based Savings
There are some super sophisticated bots that will monitor your spending habits to determine small amounts you won’t miss and withdraw $ to put into an account for you. I saved a little over $200 in about 2 weeks using one of these apps. Not bad for a girl who has trouble saving money on her own. Thanks bots!
Digit is one of the most popular auto savings apps on the market. Warning, you’ll get (annoying) texts almost daily but just ignore them like you do texts from that one guy who likes you way more than you like him. Note, it’s free for 100 days and then there’s a 2.99 per month charge. Sign up here.
Tip: If you have multiple checking accounts, sign up for both and double your saving power since you can only assign one checking account at a time in each of these.
Hide Your Money
Did you know you can hide your money from yourself by purchasing a CD? A Certificate of Deposit is kind of old school. It’s a bank instrument where you drop off a lump sum of money for 6 months, 9 months, 1 year or longer and earn interest. If you cash in the CD early, there’s a penalty. Why would you do this? Well let’s say you get a lump sum of money at tax time and you want to save it but you’re afraid you’ll dip into it. Putting it into a CD not only earns you some interest but keeps it safe from you and your impulse to blow it on, say a camel for your son's prom.
FIND WAYS TO CUT BACK
Pretty much all of us can cut back on spending in some ways. I’m not going to tell you to stop buying coffee, stop eating out so much, or to keep your AC usage under control, you know this stuff already. Definitely do these things but I have a few more tips.
Comb through your statements
Get rid of unused subscriptions. I’m telling you, there’s hidden treasure in your bank statements. I went through mine before I left the US and was shocked at how many subscriptions I didn’t realize I was paying for. I cancelled about 6 or 7 charges that averaged $9.99 per month, a savings of almost $70 per month.
Audit your service plans. Next I went through my cell phone bill, internet bill, etc and identified almost $40 per month in incorrect recurring charges. Definitely called to cancel those and got that money back into my pocket.
Get all the discounts
Get the Honey extension. Not a coupon clipper? All good, Honey’s got ya. It's a free browser extension that will find discounts and sales whenever you go to a shopping website or checkout page. It can round up all the discount codes and apply them all until one works. Saves you money without much effort and easy to install in your browser. Get the extension here.
Get what's owed to you - if you've had flight delays, the airlines may owe you credits or vouchers. Service is an IOS app that will collect your due from airlines. They’ll comb through your email and find your bookings, check to see if the flight was delayed or cancelled and go to war for you. You pay them a % of what you get from the airline.
They won my buddy Richard of Haitian Nomad a $200 voucher on a flight he forgot he had. That was a nice surprise in his inbox.
I just had two flights delayed last week. I signed up while sitting at the airport waiting to board. Can't wait to see what my little army gets me. Sign up here and you'll get $20 towards your first claim.
Negotiate Better Pricing
Get your interest rates reduced. When was the last time you requested an interest rate reduction on your credit card? Did you know you could request that? You can. Especially if you’ve been making your payments on time. Even if you haven’t, give them a call, the worst they can say is no and you’ll be paying what you’re paying right now. Best case scenario, you get to save some $$.
Get lower cost plans. I tend to put my cell phone and internet accounts “under review” every 16 months. I just call T-Mobile and Comcast and ask them if there’s a better plan than the one I have, there often is. Winning! I also sometimes threaten to cancel my service just to get lower rates. More often than not, they offer me something good to entice me to stay.
Get rid of PMI on your mortgage. If you are paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), check your current principle balance against your original purchase price. If the difference is 20% or more of the original loan, you should not be paying PMI anymore. (You pay PMI, also known as "points", if you did not put 20% down when you purchased your home) Your mortgage company won’t tell you that you’ve hit the mark, you’ll have to call them and ask for a review. I requested the review last year and knocked $82 per month off my mortgage payment.
FIND WAYS TO MAKE EXTRA MONEY
It’s pretty simple math, you can save more money when you make more money. There is are two obvious ways to make more money 1. Get a better paying job and 2. Ask for a raise (seriously, go ask for it!) Other than that, I find that we say we don’t have time to make extra cash but if we're honest, we do. And there are so many ways to do it that don't require a lot of time.
You do not have to be a millionaire or even a thousandaire to invest. There are tools that help you you grow small amounts of money. Sure, you won't get rich, but growing $5 or $10 is still growing money, right?
Stash is an app that invests your money in stocks and EFTs (basically groups of stocks) using personalized investment strategies with as little as $5 per week. It's actually pretty cool, you get to pick your portfolio and investment style and it has tools for you to learn to invest smarter. If you sign up and fund your account, you get a $5 sign-up bonus. Sign up here.
Acorns is a similar app, they invest your small change by looking at the spending associated with your linked credit cards. They round up your transactions, put the change into your Acorns account and invest it. They'll also give you a $5 bonus for signing up. Sign up here.
Getting into the habit of investing when there are only small dollars at stake is a good idea. Next, you'll be ready to join the big leagues...or maybe the minor leagues.
Make money when you spend money
Ebates - I can’t comprehend why everyone doesn’t already have this. For one, it’s free. For two, you get paid every time you shop, including when you book flights. They get advertising dollars for routing you to sites and they share those dollars with you. Basically, you’re already shopping, they just want to give you money for doing what you were gonna do anyway...you’re kinda crazy for not letting them. Sign up. Sign up like, now. You'll get $10 for it. Go get your $10.
Secured Rewards Card - Wells Fargo has a secured rewards credit card. A secured credit card has a credit limit equal to any amount you deposit to the secured account. In that regard, it’s pretty much a debit card. The differences - it shows up on your credit report so it can be used to repair or build credit and it earns cash back which is an unlikely option with your debit card. Since I got the card a year ago, I’ve racked up over $1,000 in cash back.
Grab an Odd Job
Drive your income up - Uber and Lyft are actually great options to make some extra money for travel. If you’re not doing much for a few hours a day or on the weekends, may as well get in these streets and make some money. Currently the sign-up bonus for Uber is $630 and Lyft is $450. Both bonuses depend on your location. Sign up to drive for Uber here and (I know people who do both, don't knock the hustle) Sign up to drive for Lyft here.
Get off your assets - Do you have stuff you don’t use? Of course you do. Clean out that hall closet, the garage, or storage unit, and drop it on OfferUp to get it sold. You’ll free up space, grab some extra dough AND reduce the amount of stuff you’ll have to pack when you take your year abroad.
There’s money in your house - SO many people have sang the praises of renting their homes out on AirBnB and Innclusive. If you have a spare bedroom or a full basement, this is sort of a no brainer. I even have friends who will just go stay with a friend when their home is booked. They also rent it out when they know they’re going to be out of town for business or vacation. I’ve seen some pretty sick earnings from hosting. One friend clocked almost $40,000 in a year for his place. I suggest posting your place on both platforms to maximize exposure, just make sure you don't double book between the two.
Hang out with tourists - Do you know your city really well or do anything very cool and unique in your city? You could make some extra money hosting experiences on AirBnB. They now offer unique experiences in small groups (1-4 people) hosted by locals. Take some people to a dance class, do a tour of your favorite restaurants, walk some people through the best street art in your city.
Teach English online - there are like 90 trillion people in China and they need someone like you to help them practice their English. I know a gang of nomads that love to teach English online. It’s an easy way to make some money and you get to engage with people on the other side of the world. The one most of my friends work with is VIPKID. There are others, I'm sure, that are a google search away.
FIND WAYS TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY
You’ve saved your money, you’ve cut back on expenses, you’ve made extra money YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO RICHES. You just need to stay on top of all of this by managing your financial picture. It may seem daunting but it’s really quite easy. There are a loads of tools to help you manage and track your finances like a pro.
Trail Wallet - a phone App that is a favorite of our resident frugal spender/aggressive saver, Khalif.
He creates a budget for each location, logs ALL of his spending in the app and uses it to monitor how well he's doing.
The app is technically for trips but you can make it work for day to day use. Great way to see where your money is going. Shining a light on a habit is what helps you make moves to improve it. It's why
Mint is one of the most popular ways to manage your financial picture. Financial gurus love it, users love it..heck Quicken even bought it! It allows you to see all of your bank accounts in one place. It categorizes your spending, alerts you if a category is over a certain spend amount. You can set up savings goals, pay bills, and do all kinds of cool things in here.
The Manual Method If you just want a straight forward spreadsheet, here's a link to my budget template. You'll need to make your own copy or download it as an Excel file. Once you enter in how long you're saving and all of your budgeted expenses, it will tell you how much you will have saved up by the end of that based on how much money you have left over from your budget.
Funding long-term travel can be about big actions like selling your house or pulling from your retirement plan, but it can also be about small disciplined and consistent steps that build up your travel fund. In either case, it's about starting. So get started.
Wander over to our Facebook Group and join our chat about stashing travel cash.