Money Talk: Saving for Travel

Money Talk: Saving for Travel

Oh, two very different seeming things: money and travel. One is really fun to talk about and the other is quickly avoided. I shared a glimpse about our approach regarding money awhile ago and hope to continue to write more about money in the future as a way to encourage and inspire.

Money Talk | Moving Peaces

Can I start by saying that I love traveling? I really do. So much so, that it is definitely given more weight in my budget than the average person might. There are days I just want to say, “let’s go!” and completely ignore all financial repercussions. I see travel as important. But I also believe we should be good stewards of our money (aka take care of what you’ve been given).

So what’s a girl to do when she loves to travel but it’s crazy expensive? Be realistic about it. I can’t pretend it doesn’t cost money to travel, just like I can’t pretend that I’m done traveling. By being honest about both of those things I can better move forward and budget accordingly (so if you have a love for travel…or shopping or sports or music, I’d recommend taking the same approach). In the past I’ve found that if I pretend that something isn’t important to me and leave it out of the budget that doesn’t actually end up saving me money. Instead, it ruins my budget because that love inevitably gets my money but I never accounted for it. See what I’m saying? Start by being honest.

Now, just because I love traveling (or shopping, sports, music, etc.)  does NOT mean that all self-control goes out the window. I don’t get a free pass just because it’s a passion of mine. There was a plan and a budget to take our trip to Argentina, as boring as that might sound. Oh and trust me, there were days that it seemed like that plan was going to take forever.

A few years ago, we said this trip was important to us. Before we even knew where we wanted to go, we started saving. Our plan was to put aside all “extra” money. All Christmas money, birthday money, tax refunds and freelance money went into a separate account set aside for this big trip. Once we had saved up a 3-6 month emergency fund with our income (that’s 3-6 months living expenses in case who-knows-what happens) we said we could start allotting some of our income towards the trip fund as well. There were times that it was really annoying that all of our extra fun money was already marked for the trip when we wanted to use it for something else, something that brought a little more instant gratification.

If you want to spend money on a passion/hobby/interest/goal, instant gratification has got to go. Drop the impulse buys, start saying no to good things–things you like but aren’t as important as your financial goal. Things that don’t go and you do keep spending money on: groceries, rent/mortgage, utility bills, medical expenses, paying off debt and saving for a rainy day.

Because guess what? I was without a full-time job for the better part of last year. That did not fit in the plan. It was SO frustrating to feel like my goals were on hold, not only professionally and personally, but financially, too. The good news? We had a few months of an emergency fund saved, and we had already rearranged our spending habits to live on much less than our income. We tightened up our budget a bit more and had to make some tough decisions, but we were also able to keep the trip savings mostly intact during the time it took to find other employment.

Saving for your goals, for the fun stuff, is important. But making sure you also save for the unknowns is vital. Just like you can’t ignore your passions and dreams, you can’t ignore your responsibilities either when it comes to finances. So, that meant we saved for years and that might not sound very inspiring. But what is inspiring is that we don’t have any debt from that trip so when we took it, we got to completely enjoy it.

There are things in life that come up and I don’t want to pretend that everyone is able to just save and go in a few years. There are big financial commitments, health emergencies and limitations out there that are real. Sometimes I hesitate to even tell these stories because I don’t want it to sound like I take these opportunities lightly. Instead, I hope to encourage and inspire you that with patience and planning, more is achievable than you think.

Travel | Moving Peaces

Money isn’t an easy topic and frankly, writing a series on it is super strange for me. But I know it matters and has an impact, which has compelled me to be open and available for the conversation with anyone who wants to have it.


Money Talk – My Story

Money Talk – My Story

Money is such a crazy topic. I hate talking about it, yet at the same time, I am always wanting to read and hear how to best handle money. I recently described the way I approach money to someone by saying I aim to be “cautious and intentional” with it. Not to mention, you all know I’m thrifty. The thing is, people want to know what that means and what that actually looks like. Recently, I realized I should share more about money and some of the lessons I’ve learned in dealing with it. I still don’t feel totally comfortable talking about it, but it’s worth it if it gives hope and encouragement to someone else.

Money Talk | My Story | Moving Peaces

When I graduated college, I had somewhere around $22,000 in debt. All of it was student loans, you know, the “good debt” according to some. The thing is, it could have been much worse. I had several scholarships, went to a public in-state university, worked through school and lived on a tight budget.  We can go into more detail later, but to start, I had $22,000+ in debt. And then soon after, we got married. The hubby had a little bit of school debt of his own. We each had entry-level jobs with less-than-entry-level pay.

We decided early on that we didn’t want to hang on to that debt. We’d both lived on very little so we knew it was possible to do so. A few months into our marriage we took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class, which encouraged us to be even more radical about it. I can’t say that we followed everything he teaches; you do have to take what he says with a grain of salt and figure out what works for you.

Aggressively, we paid six times what the minimum monthly payment was on my loans. Our default answer seemed to be, “we can’t afford it” whenever something came up. Sometimes I think about that time and wonder what we did spend money on because knowing what we made compared to what we paid in debt, I’m still not quite sure how we did it.

Exactly 18 months after I graduated, we were debt-free. I remember the day I got the paycheck that would allow us to make the final payment and couldn’t help but tell my boss what that check meant.

I don’t often tell this story because I know it’s not a common one. Debt is hard and it can be devastating. I don’t want to make light of the situation some are facing. There’s a lot of situations I’ve never faced and I cannot begin to imagine. Not everyone can pay that much off in the time that we did, and I don’t want to make it sound like you’re failing if you can’t. This post isn’t about me waving this in your face. When friends talk about debt, I am often completely quiet because I don’t want it to sound like I have it all figured out. We were fortunate to both be on the same page about money and have two incomes, which allowed us to make significant payments. I’m not going to say it was always easy either–I had a lot of health issues during that time and also took a major pay cut to take a different job. I tell my story to give you hope. Being debt-free has truly allowed us to live much more freely. We still have a relatively tight budget and sometimes I still get stressed about it. We continuously have to say “no” to a lot of good things because of cost. But ultimately, we’ve had so much more freedom without debt.

I want that sort of freedom for everyone. I’m not a financial adviser, nor can I act as one. But I can tell my story and encourage others. I can tell you how I (we) approach financial decisions, and taken with a grain of salt, maybe this money talk will be beneficial to you, too.

I’ll be writing more posts related to money in the future, so let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to answer or topics to cover.

Less is More

There are things I want. And sometimes I want them now. Or at least, I think I want them now.

I could blame it on our culture and say the world has convinced us that instant gratification is the way to go, the way to be. But really, my own selfish desires get in the way as I think I can get my way now, just because I want to.

We don’t know what the future holds, and we can’t and we won’t. We can dream. We can hope. We can try to prepare. But it might still mean an entirely different life than we first imagined. All of that’s okay, but we’re going to have to wait it out.

With that waiting, must come discipline. I’m talking particularly about our finances. A little less than a year ago, we kissed debt goodbye and were able to save, allowing us the possibility to make this move across the country. While in the past few months our budget has been all over the place, we are going to buckle down now and save whatever we can. I can’t say that I totally love it, but I think it will be worth it…not now, but later. To me, it feels like we’ve already been living the life of a frugal young couple. In some ways, we have, but it’s time to make some serious sacrifices.

This means living with less. Less trips to the grocery store just to grab some ice cream or a chocolate bar. Less impulse buys at H&M. Less eating out. Less scouring craigslist “just because.” Less Groupon purchases. Less “needs” at Target. Less waste. Less chasing after empty promises of a better image or “success.”

It also means more. Living with more intention. More meal planning. More trips to Goodwill, Aldi and the dollar store. More research on our purchases. More thought about what’s at stake down the road in lieu of another $20 item at Target. More working together to meet our goals. More creativity. More opportunities to give. More opportunities to live.