Thursday, November 12, 2015

Q&A Session 1: How do you travel for so long?

We get this question quite often.  Our past and future travel plans are met incredulous looks and a tone of disbelief.  You must be rich!  You are putting off your retirement!  How irresponsible!  Needless to say we are not wealthy (by American standards) and no, we are not mortgaging our future.

So how do we pay for our travel?  How are we preparing for our upcoming 2 year walk-about? 

Do the Math.

Without a plan we would be stressed and a mess.  We have a budget and we stick to it.  No new cars, expensive vacations or shopping sprees.  We cook most of our own meals, do our own mechanical work and keep it simple.  No gas guzzling SUVs, we commute to work together, and share rides when it’s possible.  We aggressively cut costs in all aspects of our boring work-filled lives.  Except for my $40 a month milk habit.  (A man ha got to eat!)  Pro-tip; Track every dollar, the sub 10$ purchases add up.  I have friends that burn $60 a month just on coffee!           

No debt. 

We have none; Period.  Much has been written on this topic, so I will keep it brief.  Most consumer level debt is a fantastic waste of resources.  There are obvious exceptions such as investments (some property for example) and owning a home. 

Minimize liabilities. 

We don’t own a home.  Don’t misunderstand; home ownership can be an asset, especially compared to long term renting.  However, given our plans, purchasing a home and the necessary mortgage it brings is a waste of resources and an unneeded risk.  In some markets owning a home and renting it while away is a viable income option.  We may still go this route over the next 5 years or so.  When we pull the plug and hit the road our fixed overhead (other than travel/living expenses) is nothing more than our phone bill.

Keep it simple.

There is no denying it.  We live in a materialistic society, for better or worse it isn’t going to change. But it can be mitigated.  The idea of less is more hit home with us when we moved for the first time.  We had boxes of miscellanea and unneeded doodads.  There was enough to fill the bed of my truck.  For some unexplainable reason it was actually hard to part with these things. Clothes I hadn’t worn (or seen) in years, computer parts, the detritus of a 2 decades of life.  We endeavored to pair it down to the basics.  When the dust settled our entire material lives was neatly packed inside a 5’x10’ storage unit.  It was a strange feeling, locking that door and heading for the border, free from the clutter.  We have accumulated more items since that day; A few pieces of cheap furniture, tools for building the van, a sewing machine. We still must actively fight the desire to accumulate “stuff”.  But when the time comes to pull the plug again, I suspect we will have even less than before.  

Save. 

When its all said and done, every dollar we earn has a place.  What isn't used for our basic needs goes to retirement and travel savings.  We occasionally indulge ourselves, we aren't puritanical in the pursuit of savings.  Let's just say $7 lattes and expensive imports are not our style.  Having declared all excess funds off limits makes it much easier to resist temptation.     

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