Since buying our house in August, I’ve had a number of people say to me “Oh I bet you’ll stop traveling so much now.” And that comment always catches me a little off guard and I’m never sure what to respond with. The truth is, no, actually I want to travel just as much or more as we have been the past few years. Just because we have a house now doesn’t mean the travel is going away. And I think what most people don’t understand is that travel for us is part of the lifestyle that we want to lead, just like some people want to be going out to restaurants or having a nice bottle of wine. The time and money we spend on travel is a part of our overall lifestyle and budget and we make a really huge effort to create a life we love. With that said, there are definitely things we do to make travel a priority and it’s definitely possible to live well at home…and travel as well, and here’s how we do it.
Invest wisely and start early.
One of the most important things we’ve done in our late twenties and early thirties is getting a really solid footing in investments. Nick and I both have strong 401k’s through our employers as well as some personal stocks. We also have made some profits in real estate over the last several years and as a form of investment, we’ve been buying places that we know we can fix up and sell for a higher price down the road which is what we’ve done with our 2 previous properties and will do with our house now in the next several years. In doing this, we’ve given ourselves a financial comfort for down the road, but it’s really important to start investing (whatever that means to you) early so you’re better set up for retirement and all the things you want to do down the road.
Now does this mean go out and spend a ton of money on the stock market? No. Invest wisely and do what works for you. There are a lot of ways to invest in your future without having to play the stock market.
Live within your means.
This is one of the things that Nick and I have steadily done over the 10 years since we’ve been out of college. We live within our means and anything we buy or do, we have the money for it. A lot of people get into trouble with living well beyond the money coming in and that can cause a lot of issues over time. Figure out a way to prioritize your life to spend money on the things that are within the amount of money you’re bringing in. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.
Save, Save, Save.
In addition to our general expenses, we also have pretty hefty savings accounts that we don’t touch. I personally like to have a number of different savings accounts for specific purposes: travel, home funds, personal savings, etc. That way, I know what the money is ultimately for and I can watch it grow as I put money in without pulling from it until I have a specific thing to use it for. The more you can save now, the more you can afford to do later!
Know what your priorities are – you can’t have everything.
A lot of people look at our travel budget and think, “I could never afford that.” But here’s the thing, we’re not spending money on the other things that someone else might be spending money on. Instead we’re prioritizing travel while someone else might be prioritizing other things. It’s all about knowing what your priorities are and realizing that you can’t have everything – so figure out what’s important to you and put your money toward your priorities.
Have no debt.
This is a really hard one to get to but so worth it. The only debt Nick and I have is our mortgage. We paid off our school debts and car payments as soon as we possibly could so that when we got to our late twenties, we had no overhead except for our home. This allowed us so much more money per month to do what we wanted, instead of paying out so much money in car and loan payments. If I have one piece of financial advice – it’s pay off all the debt you possibly can as quickly as you possibly can. You’ll be so much better off down the road without it hanging over your head.
When you feel yourself overextending, cut back.
Sometimes, and we all do this, we get to a point where we might overspend on something and we feel like we’re getting ourselves a little out of our budget on certain things. At that point, it’s important to remember to cut back and get back to the point where you feel comfortable in how much you have to spend again. Travel is amazing, but if you’re putting yourself into debt to do it, it’s not worth it. Make sure you are staying within your limits and being financially smart and it will be way better in the long run.
Plan Ahead and Pay off Your Trip Before You Take It
Moving is expensive and after just moving into our house, I’m so glad we plan our travel ahead. If we had just moved and I was trying to have the money for moving and for upcoming travel, I’d be struggling. But we have out trips planned out and paid off so far in advance that at the moment, we have trips planned and paid for through March so I have some amazing travel ahead without having to feel crunched for cash. It’s so worth it to plan ahead (you’ll usually get better deals too) and pay off your trip before you take it, that way when it does come up, you can really just enjoy it and not have to worry about how much it’s costing when you get home!