The Secret To Our Savings

There is always a question, how do you do it? How did you travel for two years? There are so many factors involved. There is no simple answer, but at the same time it is not as hard as people believe it to be. There is a lot of give and take. It is a life of sacrifice but so much more gain, gains that you would never think you would come.

Ok, let me start out at the beginning… We will start with our day to day life. What do you need to survive your day? I’ll make a list.

1. A house to sleep in, shower, cook, and live.

2. A car, or a mode of transport to get where you need to go in the day.

3. Food and water, to nourish your body.

4. A means of communication, eg a phone

5. Clothes to wear, and shoes to keep your feet dry.

And then you break it down, step by step. Step 1: A house to sleep in, shower, cook and live. Amelia and I currently rent a room for $65/week each. This includes electricity and water but no internet. We own a bed, bookcase, two bed side tables and a portable clothes hanger, and two backpacks and few plastic boxes to store things. In the house, we have access to the bathroom, which we have purchased simple shampoo, conditioner, a bar of soap and a razor. We also have basic makeup and moisturiser (coconut oil) and hair brush and straightener (approx. 5 years old). The kitchen has all available utensils and cooking equipment. Amelia and I own a electric fry pan, a coffee machine, and blender (all given as gifts since returning back to Australia), which we use daily. The fridge is stocked with food we purchase on our weekly budget. We eat simply and cheaply. Our basic shopping list will consist of plain food; fresh veggies, fruit, chicken, and tinned food and spices in the cupboard, we also purchase snacks (biscuits, popcorn, etc) and breakfast cereal within our budget. When it is just Amelia and I cooking at home, we will cook simple meals requiring 5 ingredients of less, that are quick and easy and cheap to cook. We visit our relatives and friends frequently within the week or fortnight which usually gives us the much needed variety in our diet. This is one of the occasions where “taking” is a must-do for saving money and gaining what you need. I will digress here, and explain a few things. There are people in our lives that have everything they need, they do not cut corners, or go without. They have endless amounts of food, clothing, internet, and above all love and support for us. And this is one of the things that makes our lives possible. We have built ourselves a tribe around the world that offer their hospitality to us, with no strings attached. They want to see us achieve all that our hearts desire and they usually have what we need in abundance and will go out of their way to facilitate our dreams. Whether it is a meal a week/fortnight, or free internet when we need to do some research, our family and friends, our tribe have allowed this dream to prosper and flourish.

Step 2: A car, or a mode of transport to get where you need to go in the day. Luckily, we own our cars, so transport is taken care of. Public transport and car pooling is another option which I have used over the years, but I am not prepared to give up my car while living in a town where public transport is less than reliable. But a budget must be kept with owning your own vehicle as well. Expenses include; rego, insurance, maintenance and fuel. The first three are not as easy to cut costs on as fuel is but it is possible. We do our research on insurances and maintenance, we call around, research and enquire regarding the cost and fees associated. Every expense adds up. Fuel on the other hand proves a drain to the bank account at times. We fuel up once a week with a budgeted amount, and if I notice that my fuel is running out quicker than intended, I limit my driving. I choose whether it is necessary to go out in the afternoon to walk down the beach, instead just walking around my local streets, to save the fuel driving to another destination. Of course, not all driving can be avoided, and exceptions can be made, but being aware of wasted movement in your vehicle can save you in the long run.

Step 3: Food and water, to nourish your body. I touched on this before, and I will just expand on this. One thing when you go grocery shopping is knowing what you can skimp on and what should not be skimped on. At the major grocery stores, they will have home brand options, and the best rule is to try everything once. If the product is similar to brand name in taste, then stick to that option. If it is inedible (which some of them are), don’t buy it again. It is as simple as that. Wait for specials, buy the products you need, as apposed to buying what you want. Set a budget, some weeks it will allow you to buy things you wouldn’t usually be able to budget in and other weeks you have to be strong because you need to buy toiletries. Buy the cheaper produce that doesn’t quite look right or is slightly bruised (these will usually be at a cheaper price) because they still taste the same as the produce at full price. Shop locally, buy off the side of the road, keep your eye out for bargains, but don’t become obsessed. The hardest thing for me was to learn to be ok with going over your budget and not to restrict yourself completely. I still buy myself pepsi max, not because it is necessary but purely because I want it. Amelia and I don’t go out for dinner very often (the biggest trap for blowing your budget) but instead go out for coffee (averaging $10 for both of us). At least once a month we will go out for a meal, so we don’t completely restrict ourselves and feel as though we are missing out. We keep a diary, so that we know that we will be going out to dinner for a friends birthday so we know not to go out for a meal that fortnight, for this will blow our budget. But the key is balance, and don’t completely rule out those little indulgences. I still have take away coffee more than I probably should but I love it, and I will always allow it to be in my budget.

Step 4: A means of communication, eg a phone. Ok, this is a hard one, especially when you are bombarded with advertisement stressing that you need the latest phone, the latest upgrade, the latest features. And with the fact that your phone will tend to die at the end of two years, forcing you to consider the latest release, it makes it even more difficult to deny yourself. But it is not always the answer. I am not saying you go out and buy a $50 black and white Nokia like we all had when we were teens. But I am saying be aware of the influence advertisement has on you. I personally love my Apple Iphone and would rather never part with it, but I definitely do not have the latest. I have however taken advantage of people’s need to upgrade and acquired a second hand Iphone which had a smashed screen that I got fixed for a reasonable fee (I also have in the past replaced these screens on my own, watching a Youtube clip, but I do not always have the desire to do this), and now have a reasonably working phone with a cracked selfie camera (this is a struggle for me who suffers with vanity issues at times). We also have prepaid credit and data, which is working for us. In the past, I have had the massive phone plan, and the up-to-date phone and have spent hundreds a month paying it off. And now, I pay $30 a month and that’s only if I want to. There is no obligation to put credit on my phone and with wifi becoming more and more readily available (and my parents and friends being tech-savvy enough to communicate on the internet), there is a limited need for anything more than that. Anything more than that is a luxury for us. At times, I wish I could instantly google things, or scroll Instagram, but is it a necessity? Not really. And if I do want to google it when I get into wifi, I write a note in my phone reminding me that I once wanted to know more about this particular topic. It definitely becomes laughable when you get to the end of the month and you go through your phone and try to remember why you wanted to google that in the first place but do it anyway because why not.

Step 5: Clothes to wear, and shoes to keep your feet dry. This one here would have to be the key to our success, hands down. Or should I say hand me down? Raid some wardrobes people! Ask your friends, ask your family, every one has clothes they don’t need anymore waiting for eager bodies to fit. And if people aren’t willing to separate from their precious articles, you can always find the same, if not better at your local op shop. The key is persistent looking and keeping an open mind to what your fashion can evolve to. Experiment with looks and have fun with your clothing. If you can’t find what you need second hand, and you have to go to an actual shop, make sure it is worth your money. Make it an article of clothing that can be warn for years, make it timeless and worth pulling out your money. I have been wearing the same outfits for nearly six years now, proudly, without fear of ridicule or being behind the fashion times, because at the end of the day nobody cares what you are wearing. And one more thing, pay money for good shoes. It will save so many aches and pains, smelly feet and everything in between. Trust me.

Although I have only slightly touched on it, there is still one giant step that has helped us with making our dreams come true. Our tribe. Our family, friends and strangers alike who show us kindness, hospitality and care in times of need. Their generosity and love have made this journey a fulfilling and wild one. Without them, we would not be here. So nurture your relationships, love them and appreciate what you have because you have the world, and it is yours to make of it what you wish. Let that be love. Love the world, and let its love shine on you.

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