Up front let me tell you my biggest rule during the whole process of saving up money for our trip: If any measure influences my quality of life to anything below awesome, I won’t do it. Life is short and you never know how much time you’ve got left, so always seize the moment. I take the journey as part of the goal, and any goal as yet another step on the journey of life. Having said that, here’s what’s helped us save enough money to allow us to be crazy, and go and live our dream of sailing around the world. Some of you might be relieved to know that there are no spreadsheets involved. We are ways too spontaneous and unorganized for that.
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” (Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist)
Reduce accommodation costs – We enjoy living in community, so to us not having a house to ourselves is enriching, far beyond simply reducing the rent we pay.
Enjoy free activities – On weekends we love camping, chillaxing in parks, fishing (Pablo), surfing, snorkeling, sun rise yoga on the beach, Sydney’s wonderful coastal walks, lying in the grass staring at the sky through a beautiful treetop canvas, feeling the ocean massage our feet, jamming/ improvised music sessions and fire twirling with friend’s… there is almost endless ways of having fun without spending a fortune. During the week, I teach yoga, dance and fitness for a living, so don’t spend money on staying fit. Pablo, goes for runs and plays squash. plus the occasional soccer game. We both like Frisbee and beach volleyball. Beyond sports, even spending a week with kids here does not have to be expensive. Besides the playgrounds, there is always something on in one of the libraries, sing/song/dance… you name it. Sometimes we organize arts and crafts sessions at home… I could go on and on, but guess you get the gist. It’s a change in mindset from leaving the house with the wallet handy, or just having it as a backup at the bottom of your bag (underneath the kids homemade snacks) for the occasional Chai.
Think through grocery shopping – This is a tricky one as I’d love to be able to afford only buying organic food. However, at least here in Sydney, this comes at double, if not triple the price of commercial products. Therefore I draw a line; certain foods like eggs, dairy produce and specific fruit and vegetables I either buy organic, or I do without them. Others, I am more flexible on. Buying in bulk also works for products we use lots (nuts and seeds in our case). What I can, I prepare myself at home to bypass all the numbers and nasties they put in commercially produced stuff. What our limited city backyard allows us to grow ourselves, we do. Lastly, I only go shopping with a shopping list and, besides the occasional one or two extras my toddler grabs along the aisles, stick to it.
Recycle accessories – Reduce, reuse, recycle is a concept which not only saves the environment, but also your wallet. In our neighbourhood one can often find top furniture on the street which people are no longer using, especially a day or two before council pick ups. This might not happen everywhere, but exchange- or flee-markets are becoming more and more common. Garage sales or freecycle websites are also increasingly popular and if they haven’t hit your local area yet, you could always try and set the trend. It also helps that I hate shopping (markets aside) and the less clothes I own, the more free I feel.
Keep outings special – If we really feel like going out, we treat ourselves. However, having indulged in a satisfying party life when we were younger, we can now sincerely enjoy the humble coziness of our own home and simple joy that homemade dinners and BBQs with friends can provide. Every now and then we enjoy a special outing to the opera, a concert or theatre. Keeping these occasions rare not only adds to our savings, but also makes them even more special.
Holiday locally – We love camping and are lucky to live in a country that is filled with wondrous nature, amazing diversity and countless spots to visit on weekends or vacations. Often beauty lies so close if you only manage to open your eyes. How many of us really know our own backyards? Spending lots of our free time within a three hour radius of Sydney is a joy for us. If we ever come to see it as a sacrifice, we drive further or have been seen to head of to a Pacific island for a few days. But again, keeping those trips rare…
Saving on interest – I am by no means an investment freak and, although my husband works in finance, we try and stay away from the casino like calculations that happen on Wall Street. Instead we tried to find the savings account which pays most interest and have been cruising quite happily like this for a few years. We also keep a separate account for living expenses and try not to touch our savings account, or the dedicated sum that goes into it every fortnight.
So if you are, like many people I talk to, thinking that money hinders you from living your dream, start saving today. I don’t let money rule my life, but have realized with age that it can buy you a certain degree of freedom (that is, of course, if you don’t let it ($) dominate your life). I also know some people who live money-less, of dumpster diving, hitch hiking and in occupied houses. Personally that’s not my choice.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” (Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist)