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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.