“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of”
This quote is from The Alchemist, the book that pushed me over the edge when I was trying to decide whether or not I should pursue my dream of travel. A good friend of mine let me borrow it, I read it on a 3 hour flight, and it is now the ONLY book that I have packed with me on my adventures. I would like to start this post out with, if you are contemplating a crazy life change of any sort, read this book!! 🙂
The last few days, I have been reliving the past 3-6 months, when this idea came to me, making the decision, and the work involved to get to where I am now, just a couple days from this idea and lifelong dream becoming a reality. I realized, while I have shared with you bits and pieces, I haven’t gone into any sort of specific details on how I have managed to go from a receptionist at a small company in North Idaho, living by myself, to this: taking a break from my job, packing up my life, and jumping a plane to a whole mess of unknowns.
A year ago, I was looking at starting a small business, nothing extreme, but something that I could call mine. At the time I was a receptionist, making enough money to survive and live comfortably, but not enough to put any significant amount of money away. So I decided that my first goal towards starting my business was to pay off all of my debt and get a strong savings, which led to the dreaded decision to get a second job. This meant that
while working the 8-5 Monday through Friday job, I also started serving 3-5 nights a week. Within 6 months I was debt free, so it became time to start getting more serious about my business. I didn’t expect how burnt out I would be after working almost constantly for 6 months, and I didn’t feel ready to commit to this business that would become my baby for the next 2-3 years. I have had a job, sometimes 2, (at one time even 3) since I was 16, I have taken vacations, but nothing more than a week, and they were normally far in between. Taking a couple months off to travel was suggested to me and I started to ponder the idea. Within the week, I found out that my lease was up in two months, solidifying the plan. The next day I started this blog, the original plan to was keep my friends and family posted, but it has become fun, so I might as well see where it goes. Here are the steps that I took 2 months ago to make this upcoming Friday a reality.
I worked WAY too much. I spoke with my boss at the restaurant and told him what I wanted to do, I asked him if he would schedule me enough so that I could pay all of my bills and live off of that job. Of course he obliged, which meant I was working at least 2 days a week that were 8 AM -5 PM playing receptionist and then going straight to the restaurant and working 6 PM until it slowed down, sometimes 10, normally closer to 12 AM. On top of that, I would work one if not both weekend days, making some weeks a 7 day work week. That sacrifice made me able to live frugally off of the serving job and allowed me to put my entire paycheck from the other job into savings.
Minimized eating/going out. I didn’t completely do this, but I made a real effort to grocery shop once a month and prepare my meals in advance – meal prepping can be an addiction!- I could live off of a small percentage of what it would cost to go out even just a couple times, and even better, I was eating healthy; from fresh fruit smoothies to steamed fish, it was all delicious, I feel better physically, and this was a HUGE part of being able to save money.
Bargain shopping. I switched from the more expensive groceries stores to Winco-I love that place-Some items I would still go to the better stores for quality reasons, but for most part, I could get the same brand for dollars cheaper. 🙂
Eliminated Unnecessary Splurges. While I do still get my hair done, everything else has been eliminated-pedicures, manicures, etc.- I am now my own nail tech. It is a little silly how much money I spent on things I could do myself or simply just didn’t need! Daily coffees, lunches, even the silly vending machines at work, I tried to minimize all of those-while my morning latte is still a problem splurge, I guess $3 a day isn’t something to get too bothered about, but even that equals around $90 a month if I get one a day.
Sold Misc Items on Local Swap Websites. As I downsized, I would find all sorts of little treats that who knows why I was holding on to them, before I would take them to Goodwill I would post it on Shop and Swap, if someone bought it great, if not, I would just take it to Goodwill. It wasn’t a huge amount of money, but, I am also a little to attached to most of my stuff and could’ve probably sold way more….
Saving my change. As a server, I get quite a bit of cash going through my hands. All the change at the end of the day goes into a jar-to be left there until my trip- I have been doing this for 6 months. I don’t have the slightest clue how much is in there… but I get to finally exchange it tomorrow, and I am kind of excited.
Lowering my monthly bills. I started looking at all of my bills and tried to get better deals.
Just one example is my car insurance, I was able to do some shopping around and save $20 a month. That means, with that bill alone, I will save $240 this year!
Freelancing. I am where I wanted to be budget wise, but I still prefer to have the ability to make money while I am travelling. I have not had a whole lot of time to make much money off of any of these websites, but when I am not working 2 jobs my goal is to focus on this more and keep that cushion in my savings account-I will get back to you on the progress/effectiveness of this in the future.
I looked at my spending after a month of normal spending-I tried to use my debit/credit card for every purchase so I could see exactly how much I was spending and what I was spending it on-then set myself a reasonable budget according to category… some things that “reasonable budget” was $0. While my trip is yet to start and I can’t address any successes with that, I can say that I was able to set a financial goal and get close enough that I won’t be stressed about the money side of this trip.
So what do The Alchemist and my finances have in common? I saw my dream, and largely thanks to this book, decided to pursue it. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you make, where you live, your eye color, or your favorite candy it is never to late to go after what you want the most in life. If you dream of travel, here are some steps I took, some harder than others, but it worked for me. I have taken my first step out of the Rat Race and am embarking on my own path-that I still have so much to figure out 🙂