All posts by Jen

23 months and counting…

So I have really set a date this time… no really, I am serious.  I know this is the umpteenth time I have “set a date” but odds are in my favor now and it is time.  Everything is finally falling into place.

I know I have toyed with this for a very long time and I know I have thrown many dates out there in the past but for the first time in my life things are falling into place and I have a very official date.

I know there are countless blogs out there about RTW travel and planning to travel abroad long term etc… so I am not sure if over the next 23 months I will be useful but I am going to share what I learn along the way, hopefully it helps someone. Plus let’s be honest I love to hear myself talk.

So what is different this time? Why have I “really” set a date?

For starters, I have decided to cut my costs while abroad and Teach English.  

Before, I always thought that I would get on a plane, land on a beach and just chill with a fruity drink, but I think part of the reason I have always been hesitant to really take that leap is A: Debt (which will be gone soon) and B: Money.

I am not rich, I am not from a wealthy family and in fact until a month ago I had $1.71 in my savings account, because all my money went to either bills/debt or junk I did not need.    (Did you know 60% of American’s don’t have a $500 emergency fund?) The concept of long term travel has always been in the back of my head but I  always very valid reasons/concerns as to why I didn’t take the leap.   Debt and barely able to save anything was one of the biggest issues. Mostly my lack of savings capabilities were to blame if we are going to be 100% honest with each other.

Now, things are in place and with my plan I can take the leap as early as next August, but I gave myself one additional year and a couple of months to save and make sure everything is done prior to departure.  I have set an initial goal of 36k and I really think if I live a very boring life and work my butt off and make as much money as possible it is very feasible especially in 2 years.

So me being me, I decided to start with a few to dos, three to be exact  (I also recently learned the human brain is more efficient when you break a large to do list into 3s.)

I have decided my first 3 to do’s are going to be simple. 

  1. Find a TEFL course that is appropriate for teaching abroad.   I am degreed already so the TEFL is one of the last things I need to be competitive.  As of today, I am leaning towards teaching in China, I am 99.98% positive this is where I want to start off. It appears to be the easiest to gain valuable experience so ultimately I can be competitive to end up somewhere in Europe.   Based on what I have read it isn’t really hard to get a job in China but the better paying jobs prefer degrees & TEFL/TESOL.   Most countries this is a requirement so I rather just get this handled now, and then who knows maybe I will teach a few classes online to gain experience prior to my departure.
  2. Save $2000.00.  As I have set a very large goal of 36k prior to my departure I know in order to stay motivated I am going to have to set mini goals.  Now I know I can leave for a lot less (People have left to teach abroad with 2k in their account hence this number) but I figured since I have a two year time line I can save as much as possible, enough to be VERY comfortable especially with the amount of money I can potentially save once abroad.
  3. Maintain my created budget until the end of the year.  The day November 1, 2019  was decided as the departure date I created a budget through the end of 2018, I separated it by 4 month increments to account for any changes that might occur (raises, emergencies… etc.)     I made sure it included pay downs on my debts (I should be debt free by August 2018 with the exception of debt mitigation which will be gone shortly after. I have also created a spreadsheet to track my savings account and how much I deposit… etc.  I am using my online savings account because it yields 1.25% interest right now which is not much but every penny matters and I have been reading a lot about passive income and since I don’t really have to do anything but deposit money to earn that interest it is a win in my book.  Plus I get charged for excessive transactions so I am inclined to not get charged 10 bucks for excessively spending money.

Things I have already looked into:

I will also to continue to research teaching abroad as I don’t think I can read enough on the topic right now.   I have Kindle Unlimited so anytime I am able to find a new book I am reading it.

I have downsized all my stuff quite a bit already and I am going to continue to downsize as I am ready to part with stuff, I figure since I have 2 years I can do it slowly and really get what I want for each item.   No reason to rush, plus I really just don’t want to leave my junk with my parents (except my designer purses haha my mom would be upset if I sold them).  Not to mention this will give me something to do since I am going to be so boring over the next 23 months, even though I have downsized drastically I still have excess that I don’t really need.   Not to mention,  I am just not into “stuff” anymore.  It is weird and quite the change in my personality the past couple of years.

I researched  my jobs PTO policy, so I can bank every hour I earn up to 500 hours.  If I leave they pay me for it.  After my trip to China in February my goal is to start banking the hours and really trying to not travel or take time off (this is going to be hard… like so very hard)  I am hoping that I will get about 3-4k cashed out when I leave.  I will only take days if I really need to plus lets be honest I don’t see myself not taking a day or two or a trip or two.  I mean I am all about honesty here.

I am accounting for basic maintenance on my car, because truth be told I hate my car.  When I leave I am selling it, hopefully I get something for it, that will be a last minute boost.  Currently my rate is about 3500-7500 that I can get, given I am leaving in two years I am pretty sure that means I will get 1k haha, but either way if I keep it clean and well maintained I might be able to sell it to a private buyer for a bit more.

I am still going to try and not buy stuff, I tell myself that every day I save a penny is a penny I can spend in Mongolia or whatever.    It has been hard because I love fashion but I am really trying.  If I buy something now it is going to be investment, sturdy pieces ONLY and stuff that I can take with me.   So I will still share fun clothing items that I buy or find with you but as of right now I don’t really “need” anything, so no buying for now 🙂 I will likely post my favorite finds, or things to take with me etc.

I have also reviewed my expenses and I have truly cut my expenses drastically, I mitigated my debt, and paid off all the other cards.  I have a few things I will likely try and trim at the beginning of the year but for now I am ok with what I am paying, but I am going to try and reduce my bills by another $100 in January, I am pretty positive I can get a much lower car insurance rate and I have a few things I can let go of, so be looking for an update there.

Thanks to debt mitigation all my debts are one payment, I have two bills and a car payment.  If I move before my date, I literally will only have the debt mitigation payment which if I am teaching I can afford while abroad.  I can’t believe that everything has fallen into place and it is mostly because I have gotten my life together and started making better decisions.    I have to be honest when I save my willing to leave at any moment amount (6k) it will be interesting to see how my mindset changes, especially since “technically” I have enough miles to book a one way to China.   I am going to try and follow my plan though and wait the two years.

Based on my current budget, I think realistically I can save 20-30k over the next 23 months while paying off my debt.  This is going to be a huge sacrifice as  there is not going to be much, if any  “fun” money.   I am hoping that selling my car and cashing out my PTO will give me the needed boost to hit my “reach” goal of 36k.   That being said I am planning on teaching abroad and making money so therefore I won’t have to touch my savings that often.  That is my current plan as of right now.    Knowing me though, I might will change my goal number, or move my time line up or who knows but one thing I can assure you is I will be gone by November 1, 2019.

I will also be constantly updating my spreadsheet.   If I have ANY money left over the day before payday it will be added to the fund.  Meet Jen’s new obsession saving and budgeting.  Let’s see how it goes.

Note:  Yes I am planning on traveling over the next two years, but only if my budget allows, I do not plan on dipping into my savings I will also probably plan more North American & Caribbean travel  as it is more financially feasible from Texas. 

November 2017- Recap

November was pretty calm, considering it is a major holiday month.

I started off the month dog sitting my fur siblings while my parents cruised the Caribbean & Central America.   November 1st I volunteered for a benefit breakfast at my job and met some pretty cool and apparently prominent people.  (I couldn’t tell they were rich and “Dallas” famous, they were just cool as hell) I voted in the Goodreads Reader Choice Awards and realized just how little I have read this year but since I was commuting so much I was able to listen to a LOT of books this  month (Plus I did my annual help my friend read 100s of children’s books so she can make her Spring reading list, children’s books take a whole 3 minutes so I was reading 5-6 a day).  Guys seriously if you commute a lot, invest in Kindle Unlimited and listen to audio books on your way to work… not only will you be fancy cause you have read the classics… you are WAY more zen in life.  Seriously.  #LifeTipsFromJen

But enough of that let’s jump into what non travel fun things I did this month actually I didn’t travel at all, but with good reason.

Wins for the month

I learned to write 1-50 in Mandarin.

Yes I sure did.  I decided I am going back to China I am going to try my hardest to learn as much as I can PRIOR to going to China.  I also work with two girls who are from mainland China and Taiwan and I confirmed my skills with them.    I have always wanted to know how to write Mandarin  so I figured since I am in save to travel mode I might as well self teach… and heck yeah people I can write in Mandarin or at least pretend I am going to.

I have saved a total of $570.84: Remaining Reach Saving Goal: $35,429.26 approx. 1.61% of  my reach goal.  It is 10.51% of my I am willing to leave at anytime goal. 

I set a date on a RTW trip (post is coming tomorrow) and I was pretty surprised how much I could save, but this was mostly because I set a strict budget and stuck to it.  I could have saved more but I still spend $ on stuff I don’t need…  but each month I get better.   I didn’t go out to eat and I contemplated every purchase.  I have budgeted Christmas shopping into my checks so I didn’t overspend, but still managed to get some pretty awesome gifts for my family. I set a “reach” savings goal of $36k.   I set a “willing to leave at anytime goal” of $6,000.   I am planning on teaching abroad so I will have money coming in, I just want money in the bank for anything that might occur the first month or two.  That being said I have other factors in play so I am planning on leaving November of 2019, but if everything falls into place as long as I have at minimum 6k I will be ready to go anytime before this date.  These numbers MIGHT change, but for now this is what I am aiming for.   You can never have too much money but truthfully I am just aiming high to see what I can accomplish.  I am obsessed right now, I literally am focused on saving as much as possible every paycheck.  I itemize and try to plan for every single expense I can encounter between pay checks.   I have never been a saver so the fact I am half way to 1k in just one month excites me, especially since my Christmas shopping is 99% done so I don’t have to worry about that this month.

Favorite purchases this month

Guys click on the above image (taken directly from SpeakeasySupplyCo just to show you how awesome it is) and buy one now!  MY FAVORITE purchase this month plus I can travel with it.

Favorite Book this Month- 

Still House Lake (review coming soon but it is OH SO good) book 2 comes out in 2 weeks! yay!

Favorite Movie this Month: Thor Ragnarok, I didn’t see it opening day which is not really my norm when it comes to Marvel films but I did see it eventually and it was delightfully hilarious and a much needed break.  This was the only movie I saw in theaters this month.

Best Bad Movie I watched on Netflix– Piranha… yeah I laughed my butt off the entire time.  I LOVE my bad Netflix movies, that I posted about it.   ( I will leave the new stuff to Zach’s Zany Reviews and just blog about the junk)

Weird Stuff I tried:

I brushed my teeth with activated charcoal and I promise I will share a post soon about that as well, reminder I am not a doctor nor do I want to be a doctor so do your own research if you are thinking about brushing your teeth with activated charcoal.  I can tell you it worked for me! 

Top Post of the month: 

This post still remains a top click on my blog month after month

Product Review: Pearlessence | Cucumber Water Face Mist – 8oz









Scheduling Medical Visits Prior to Departure

Being an adult can suck sometimes, especially when it comes to making doctor appointments.     When you research time lines this is typically something that is highly recommended you do in the 6 month to 1 year from departure must do.    It is something I highly agree with I mean I don’t want to deal with having to get 10 shots all at once before I leave.  I personally prefer spacing that shit out.

Since I know I am going to be leaving any time in the next two years I decided that I really needed to go ahead and knock out medical stuff sooner rather later.

I had to make 3 appointments.  One with my medical doctor for a routine check up especially as I wanted to discuss every vaccine I am wanting to obtain to try and get as much covered under insurance as I can. I mean free is better than 100s of dollars, am I right?

I made an eye appointment with  my eye surgeon (I had cataracts) and wanted to verify the lens was good to go and discuss any issues that could occur and what to do while abroad.

I had to make a dentist appointment to get that process started.  Not kidding I have a lot of dental work to do.

I decided that since there was a strong possibility I could leave any time in the next year and some things take time it was better to get starter earlier rather than right before I left.

Let’s Talk Vaccines.

When you do a routine “what vaccines do you need to travel long term” google search these are common ones that are discussed and often recommended.

Hepatitis A – Typically two shots about 6 months apart
Hepatitis B – 3 doses one at 0, 1 and 6 months
Meningitis – One Stick
Yellow Fever – One stick
Tetanus booster- One Stick
MMR booster (measles, mumps and rubella)– One Stick
Polio– Can be oral or you get a stick
Cholera– single dose but offer incomplete protection
Rabies– 3 doses day 1, 7 and 21
Japanese encephalitis–  a 2 dose series

I am leaning towards getting more vaccines than a lot of people due to the fact I will be working with children and if they are covered under my insurance I rather be safe than sorry.   Even though I have no plans of visiting Africa any time soon I plan on getting yellow fever as I do not want to miss out simply because I lack a vaccine.  I do think I will pass on Cholera, Rabies and  Japanese encephalitis.  I do not plan on being in a Cholera zone or working with animals.  I might need to discuss Japanese encephalitis as I will be in Asia during the peak season but it will likely not be covered and it appears to be very costly.  So I will do more research on that.

Confession:  I am TERRIFIED of needles but I promise with each vaccination I will blog about it because that is something I think a lot of people don’t do.  They tell you what to consider but never give their experience.  Don’t worry I will, but guys I really hate needles.

I had to get a tetanus booster before I started my job at the hospital so I will not have to worry about that one.   I am pretty sure I haven’t been vaccinated since high school for Hep A and I am pretty positive I have never been vaccinated for Hep B. (my mother says I have but I can’t remember getting that vaccine)  Meningitis was not a requirement when I was in college so I am pretty positive I want to get that one, a shot is hella better than having to get a spinal tap in a developing country.   SO while I am not planning on leaving soon I am looking forward to having these conversations and getting an idea what is necessary.

My vision is still good from my surgery but I figured it would likely be better to verify my lens from my cataract surgery is good and just make sure I don’t need any light correction.   So that should be a an easy appointment to knock out.  I will then go to another eye doctor right before I leave to make sure I am set.

The dentist.  Groan.  I have SO much dental work I need to get taken care of.  My prior dentist was horrible and I continued to let them work on my teeth and now my mouth is all screwed up.  So my goal is to have my crap in order so when I leave my mouth is all set and healthy.  This is the real reason I decided to get all of this taken care of now.  If I actually leave in a year vs 2 years I rather get it done slowly vs all of it at once.  Plus I have a flexible spending account in 2018 so if I don’t use it I loose it so I am planning on using all the money I have set aside for it to get as much done as possible.

When you travel what medical things do you take into consideration?


Note: Headline image was taken from





Piranha 3D…another bad Netflix movie

I leave  the new movies to Zach… because well I love his reviews and I find them entertaining, that being said I love bad Netflix movies just as much and they are worthy of being reviewed on this blog.

Piranha 3D is an oldie in fact I remember when it came out, hell I even remember thinking I wanted to see it.    So when I saw that this pos film was on Netflix I knew it was time to indulge.

and oh my god guys what glorious crap it was.

What I love most about horrible movies is often the ridiculous plots have even more ridiculous endings but at the same time you might think damn could that actually happen?  Then you realize, you have lost your mind and the beer is starting to mess with your head and maybe it is time to cut yourself off.

Piranha is no different, this plot is really simple, an underwater earthquake happens, letting loose a bunch of man eating fish, that eat all the topless coeds.  The end.  Yes I am serious that is the plot these piranhas apparently love boob.

Seriously dudes there are a ton of topless coeds in this film.  I mean I went to a lot of spring breaks in college but I can’t exactly say I witnessed this much boob but after a google search of Lake Victoria Spring break… it might be the most realistic thing about this movie.  Just saying.

Apparently Lake Havasu’s Spring Break is one of the craziest Spring Breaks in the country, who knew?   Why does this matter, well this is where the film is set, except it is called Lake Victoria which is what the spring break is called.   I don’t know why it changes for Spring Break… it doesn’t make sense to me either.

This film has some interesting names… Elizabeth Shue (yes she is still alive), Ving Rhames (Julliard is probably so proud they have an alumni in this film ) the chic from gossip girl Jessica something or other, Richard Dreyfuss who must have owed someone a favor and Christopher Lloyd who is batty as hell.

So not a bad cast all things considering.

Really after watching this film I wish I could  tell you it offered some sort of life changing moment it didn’t.   You will likely have to go to Lake Havasu’s Spring break for that to occur.  That being said if you have had a few apple ciders and want to be entertained well my friends this might be the film for you.