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How You Can Afford To Travel The World

How You Can Afford To Travel The World

After traveling to over 40 countries and learning valuable ways to travel hack, I have learned one important rule: you do not need a lot of money (or have a high-paying job) to travel. Many people are hesitant to travel, and hold themselves back from possibly some of the most epic adventures because they think that they can’t afford the costs of traveling the world. With a few simple rules and tips it can be entirely possible to travel short or long term with little income.

In any case, if you’re going to travel the world, you’re going to need realistic financial planning. How much are you going to save? What is the minimum you will need to get you where you want to go without starving or feeling stranded? How do your finances look for when you return home? These are all essential questions to have thought out before one departs on a long trip, and the following guidelines can help you get set to afford to travel.

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Set a Travel Goal

First and foremost, create a travel goal and stick to it. By mapping out what your expectations are for your trip, it’s more likely that you will work towards it on a daily basis. Think about the length of the trip and the type of experiences you hope to gain. For instance, a goal can be to backpack through South America for three months on a $1,000 per month budget, or to live in an eco-village in India for several months. With your travel baseline goals outlined, it’s easier to plan for what needs to be done to get there.

Start a Travel Fund

Unless you plan to use prior savings, you’re going to have to save some cash to pay for your travels. Even if you only put $200 into a travel fund every month, that’s $2,400 you will have saved up in one year. On top of that, anytime you come across extra cash, put it into your travel fund. The more you’re able to contribute to the fund, the more you will be able to stretch out your budget and ultimately make your trip more flexible and enjoyable. This takes financial responsibility, and by making a commitment to yourself to not tap into those savings you will reach your goal sooner.

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Get Your Finances in Order

A couple of months before you are due to travel, make sure to get every single one of your finances in order so that you are not accumulating late fees or paying for things you simply don’t need while you’re abroad. Call your car insurance company to let them know you won’t be driving your car and have them freeze your account until you return. If you don’t plan to use your cell phone on your trip, you can ask your service provider to also freeze your account until you return so you’re not paying for a monthly plan that you will not be using. This goes for wireless internet as well. For student loans or other bills you can’t get around paying, make sure to have enough money in your bank account to continue to pay them. Make sure you can log in and pay all of your bills online using a credit card, or set up auto-pay if you think you might not have access to the internet for extended periods of time.

Take Advantage of Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses

The single most expensive portion of your travels is likely to be your plane ticket. One of the most valuable travel hacking tricks I have picked up over the last couple of years is signing up for a co-branded credit card to earn free airline miles. By getting a new card or two each year I have been able to cover almost all of my flights using airline miles earned from the sign-up bonuses offered with the cards.

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Many travel rewards credit cards have a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points, which is enough for a free, round-trip flight to almost anywhere in the world. When you sign up for a credit card that does have a bonus, you usually have up 90 days to meet a minimum spend requirement, which can be $1,000 to $3,000. The minimum spend is easier to meet than you’d think, and on Well Traveled Mile there are a lot of creative suggestions on how to do it. By earning rewards points you can easily save $1,200 on a trip by not paying for an airfare.

Cut Back on Conveniences

It’s true, we all love our conveniences and luxuries, but if you cut out many of those you will save more money than you would think. Sure, watching shows on demand is great, but in the age of the internet there is really no reason to pay for expensive television programming, especially if you’re looking for ways to afford to travel the world. Instead of buying a $3 cup of coffee, make it at home. Live close to work? Then save money on gas and ride your bike or take the bus to work. Think about all the small, daily expenses you could live without, then do it.

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Cutting back on these expenses will save you more money than you’d think, and once you realize how much money you’ve been spending it will be easier to fight the urge to spend when it’s not needed.

Research Alternative Accommodations

The bottom line is that in today’s well-traveled world, anywhere you travel to you’re likely to find an affordable hostel and they’re usually clean and well kept. By staying at a hostel you can easily find fun and safe accommodation for $10–$15 a night. My favorite sites are Hostelbookers and Hostelworld. It pays to compare prices for the same hostel, and you can often save a few bucks by booking through the cheaper website. Couchsurfing is another option available and provides free accommodation for travelers who create an online profile and request a couch. The benefit of Couchsurfing is that it offers users the chance to have a local experience with their host. My other favorite site for finding cheap accommodation is AirBnB, and on a recent trip to Puerto Rico I was able to save $40 per night by staying in a studio listed on AirBnB instead of a hotel.

Featured photo credit: ©Connor Bleakley via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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