The First Step to Nomadic Life
UPDATED 2016: This was the first post on Nomad'er How Far, written over 2 years ago when travel remained a pipe dream for us. Well, the dream did come true and you can read our more recent adventures here. But first, let's start at the beginning...
So, you fancy a little trip around the world?
Not so little, a big one, maybe a year?...
Now if you are anything like me and like to dream of when you will win the lottery (despite not even playing it), you have grand plans and an even grander hole in your bank balance.
I have been it all; part-time checkout girl, a teenager spending all my money on cheap clothes; scruffy student, spending all my money on cheap clothes..., customer advisor in a bank, spending all my money on cheap clothes.
Ah, ok, so something of a trend that caught on at a young age and stayed put well into my 20's.
However, thing's are a little different now. Now, a 23-year-old self-employed grown-up, a business owner, running a small pet-care company in my local area, I now spend all my money on dog treats and petrol...
Times have-a changed.
Yes my circumstances have become a little more stretched, and disposable income is not a term i am now familiar with, but that hasn't stopped me dreaming BIG.
I want to travel and work abroad, and do it for as long as I possibly can.
Wherever you currently are in your life, your path remains undecided, malleable and somewhat in your control.
If your lifestyle choices and behaviour are incongruous with your nomadic aspirations, then something has to change, right away!
Prioritize Your Debts.
Do you have debts hanging over your shoulders?
Do you owe something on your credit card, or a lingering student overdraft you just pretend does not exist?
Maybe you have been putting off doing that balance transfer and are paying back almost nothing.
Maybe you keep choosing to buy more and more, piling on the debt! Well it is time to face the debt situation, head-on.
Make it your priority to clear these debts/ stop building them, because:
1. You cannot save effectively whilst trying to also clear debts.
2. You will find deep satisfaction in knowing that your hard-earned savings are purely growing to make your travel dreams come true, not line the credit card companies pockets.
3. You can't travel with debt! You want to be focusing on enjoying those savings on amazing day trips to the Great Barrier Reef, not fumbling around trying to make debt repayments. Plus income is totally changeable and unpredictable during working travel, so debt, well, that stuff will drag you down.
You can make sure you leave debt behind and here's how:
List Your Debts
Be honest, and write down each and every debt, be it between you and a creditor, or even small amounts owed to family or friends.
List them from smallest to largest. Note what you currently repay and work out how many months it would take to clear debts paying only this amount monthly.
The financial flexibility that can come with travel can't really ever be truly experienced if we embark on amazing adventures but don't square off certain financial burdens first.
Analyse Your Spending
Honestly review how you spend your money. I prefer to keep receipts and write down the amounts I spend and relate them a specific category, but if you don't do this then use your recent paper or online statement for reference.
Even just a quick scan on your transaction list on online banking may provide some shocking discoveries.
When you spend something, maybe a small amount for example, you weigh that up in low terms, and neglect to add it on to all the other things you have recently spent money on; you aren't thinking of the bigger picture each time you spend.
Re-direct Your Income
It's time to realize that you have to redirect some of your income flow to clearing debts or nothing will change. You will continue on the same path and not create a new destination and a healthy set of habits designed to get you there.
You need to reassess how much you need those things or activities which you view as essential treats or fun. You need to imagine yourself experiencing worse financial circumstances, the kind where you are forced to find other cheaper or creative ways to fill your free time, because there doesn't have to be a correlation between how fulfilled you are and how much money you are making at a given time.
For example, when I made a decent income at a bank I was also suffering from depression, and when I was the poorest I had ever been, I was also finding love and inner peace.
Crazy how we can scramble our way to happiness despite our financial situation.
So I suggest you wholeheartedly use this mindset to channel your energy toward using your money differently; it should be seen as a tool to get out of debt and into your chosen dream, not a short-cut to momentary gratification.
It makes sense to focus on clearing the smaller debts purely so you reach a positive stage in your overall goals sooner. Plus, when you remove the smaller obstacles you gain the momentum needed to muscle through the bigger debts. Once the clutter of the small numbers are removed you can focus larger chunks of money toward one large debt.
Celebrate each and every debt that's cleared, and recognize each success as proof that with time, effort and energy, you can create a better life, whatever that might look like.
So first things first on this journey to nomadic life, start being wiser and more thrifty with your pennies, and throw them at your debts. Then the fun of saving and scrimping can begin...
Thanks for reading!
Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at NomaderHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!