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How I Saved Enough Money To Travel & Work

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If you run a digital business — meaning if you can work from your laptop and your customers don’t need to see you face-to-face in order to get your work done; and if you don’t have obligations (e.g. family) that require you be present where you are now; there’s nothing stopping you from working while you travel.

If that’s something you want, by gosh — DO IT.

It’ll change you.

You’ll grow as human being.

You won’t ever regret it.

Even if you have a horrible experience and you realize you’re happier being at home in your comfort zone — it will improve your life and make you more grateful for what you have. On the other side of wanderlust is the satisfaction of knowing that you’re the happiest right where you are.

My advice would be to figure out what’s stopping you. What are the excuses you’re making? They’re just excuses, so find a way.

“I don’t have enough money” is like the worst reason to not live your fullest life and see the world.

When I set my sights on work & travel, I knew I needed more money, but when you’re self-employed, you can’t always control how much money is coming in. So, I decided to reduce my overhead & expenses as much as possible and save.

This meant breaking bad habits

1. Impulse purchases

I started making a list before going to the grocery store and if it wasn’t on the list, I didn’t buy it. I started really questioning the things I’d buy on whims, “Do I need this more than I need to see the world?”

No matter how small, I’d put it back if the answer was no… all of those small purchases only prolonged the amount of time it would take for me to buy a plane ticket.

2. Subscriptions

I took a look at my credit card statements and unsubscribed to all of those things I signed up for that I didn’t really need. It’s INCREDIBLE how much money we can waste without even knowing it. All of those $12 here and $5 there add up to a lot over time.

3. Credit Card Debt

This is an obvious one, but when you hold credit card debt, you’re basically working to pay for absolutely nothing. (Fees, interest charges, etc.) And I got to the point where that just wasn’t acceptable anymore, so I made it my mission to pay them off and keep them paid off.

4. Energy Expenses

Living in Alaska, it wasn’t uncommon to have HUGE energy bills. You gotta do what you gotta do to stay warm, but this is an area where a lot of people pay a whole lot of money for absolutely nothing. I started turning the lights off when I left rooms and turning the heat down at night. My roommate would leave the house for the entire day and keep her electric heaters on full blast.. when I couldn’t get her on board with turning them down, I’d just go turn them down myself after she left the house. (She wasn’t paying the bills and couldn’t be arsed.)

A trick I learned during my time living in Europe was to air dry clothes. I got myself a portable clothes dryer and started using it. (I still do this to this day and only rarely use the electric dryer, and only in the extremely cold winter months.)

This may seem miserly, but I became obsessed with completely eliminating money going out of my pockets and into someone else’s hands and getting no value in return. Getting angry about that helps! lol

I got creative to make extra money

I opened part of my condo up for AirBNB for a summer. I made over $3k doing not much more than a little extra housework and laundry (and I had a blast hosting amazing travelers from all over the world!)

When a documentary crew from the BBC came to Alaska, I took a gig as their driver. When you’re looking for ways to make extra money, opportunities always seem to present themselves, and you’re in the mode to say, “yes!” This was one of the coolest experiences of my life, and they even listed me in their credits as their “assistant”!

I sold things that were just sitting in my closet collecting dust anyway on craigslist, by hosting garage sales; I dropped all my books off at used bookstores and traded them for cash.

I sold my car! And dudes, I lived in a place where you really need a car. I mean, Alaska? If I can do that… I’m just sayin’. My friends thought I was C-R-A-Z-Y, but I lived within walking distance to everything I needed and everything else was solved with a cab ride or asking a friend to pick me up on the way. My car was paid for, and I got less than $2k for it, but I was paying for insurance and gas and that adds up to a lot. That’s the bit I needed to slash from my budget. I put that $ I saved right into a savings account.

The added bonus of not having a car was that I wasn’t constantly running to the store to buy things every time something popped into my head. It’s funny how much you don’t really need when it’s inconvenient for you to get it.

I relied on Amazon Prime

Having things shipped to my door for free was probably the biggest reason I was able to live without a car those years. I started using it for pretty much everything.

Sacrificing convenience for the things I really wanted

I realize changes like these are difficult for people accustomed to living a life of convenience, but I’ve learned to sacrifice that for the things I really want. The pain of not feeling free to travel the world was larger than my pain of going without a few things.

So I tucked away a little bit of money each month for travel and my emergency fund and it didn’t take long for it to start adding up. I had $10k in my emergency account and enough money to buy international plane tickets every few months. Then airline miles started to add up, so I took domestic trips using mileage rewards to Hawaii, Arizona, to visit friends in the midwest… I took my laptop with me and kept my business humming along, and enjoyed the rest of my day exploring new places and making new life experiences.

The key to everything was taking a long, hard look at my overhead and reducing every tiny bit of waste I could find.

If you want to try your hand at the digital nomad lifestyle…

There are lots of places you can go where the living expenses are nominal!

You could rent out your home while you’re gone (one opportunity I considered was to rent to a traveling nurse or temporary corporate rentals). Or maybe do a home exchange.

The bottom line is, you can find a way and you can find the money if it’s important enough to you. Don’t let years and decades of your life slip by thinking this isn’t possible… just do it and get out there already!