Saving for Long-Term Travel, Part Four

Continued from Part Three

A Look at the Numbers

Now that you know how I did it (passive savings, frugal habits, cutting expenses), here is a summary of how my savings built up over the five years before my departure.

December 31, 2008
Total Saved:
After my first full year as a freelancer, and my first big solo trip—a two-week Intrepid tour of Egypt—there wasn’t much left in the savings column, but at least I wasn’t in the hole when 2009 began.

December 31, 2009
Total Saved: $2,500
Increase: $900
This year I took extended trips to Florida and the UK; both were budget trips, but they cut down on my earning potential and dipped into my savings. I also didn’t earn as much in 2009 because having cash in my account made lazy (to this day, I haven’t earned as much as I did in 2008—never having any cash in my account led me to take EVERY job that came my way).

December 31, 2010
Total Saved: $13,300
Increase: $11,700
I earned a little more in 2010 than I did in 2009, and I didn’t go on a single vacation. I also had two free months of room and board away from the socially expensive summer months in Toronto, and I didn’t belong to a gym. Towards the end of this not-so-great year is when I decided I just had to travel, and my spreadsheet shows it. At the end of the year, extra money was moved into Savings, including any Christmas gifts of cash. But this year’s savings are artificially high because of a shift in my taxes. When I first started freelancing, I paid my taxes in one lump sum at the begining of the following year, but then the CRA switched me to installment payments. So, what I didn’t use from my Tax Savings for 2009 is reflected in my 2010 Savings, along with what I didn’t use from my Tax Savings for my 2010 taxes, which were paid in installments that same year.

December 31, 2011
Total Saved: $17,300
Increase: $4000
This doesn’t seem like a huge increase from 2010, but after such a low-down, dirty year in which I spent very little, I was a little indulgent in 2011. I went to Cuba and Europe, twice each, and I spent a month travelling out west. Oh, and I also had laser eye surgery! Two of my flights were subsidized through various means and I stayed with friends and family out west, but that’s still a lot of spending when I was supposed to be saving.

July 1, 2012
Money Saved: $28,000
Increase: $10,700
Toward the end of 2011, my personal expenses changed as I went from sharing my house with my co-owner to living in the basement below our upstairs tenants—this saved me several hundred dollars a month, on top of my usual “pay me first” savings. So, I started directing an additional 10% of my gross towards savings. I also added the amount left over after my 2011 HST was remitted. By the time I left in late July, I had outstanding invoices that would give me an additional $2000 to stash in my travel savings, effectively giving me a $30K travel fund and cash in my chequing account. I also had some on-going projects that generated income during the first few months of travelling.


And Now for the Spending…
I never budgeted for my trip. I had an idea of what things would cost, but I never calculated what I needed in terms of funds to accomplish what I wanted to do. I just figured that when the travel fund ran out, I’d stop travelling and make more money. But, I did keep track of every dollar I spent. Seriously, I know almost exactly what I spent on everything. I kept track of my cash expenditures on a daily basis and then used a handy spreadsheet by A Little Adrift to keep track of my spending over time.

While my initial travel fund may be dry (thanks to my new toy), I’m not done travelling. I just need to start working a little more and spending a little less. I’ve learned a lot in these last 10 months, and I’ve got the “Oh My Gosh I’m Travelling” out of my system, so I can be a little more frugal, travel a little slower, and work a little more as I go. Travelling can be a lot less expensive than it was for me in the last 10 months.

Continue to Part Five