My Minimalist Journey
People always ask me how I managed to save enough money to make my big move to Thailand.
Of course people want to know how I was able to quit my job so easy.
The answer is simple.
I became a minimalist.
Minimalism changed my entire life. I experienced a life changing moment when our fridge broke in our rental property. The owner refused to replace the fridge so I was forced to purchase a replacement.
As I was cleaning out the fridge, I realized that I was throwing away hundreds of dollars worth of unused food. I was deeply embarrassed as I filled 3 big garbage bags of uneaten food.
I only had a few more months left on my lease and didn’t want to invest in a new fridge, so I opted for a mini fridge. You know, the small ones in the college dorms rooms? I purchased the small fridge from Amazon for $150. It was perfect!
The fridge fiasco brought a big opportunity for me to become self-aware about my spending habits, made me mindful about my consumption and waste.
I became more mindful of the amount I was spending on my overall living expenses and started finding ways to minimize my cost.
This was the pivotal moment on my quest to consume less.
The Minimalist Way To Save Money
Saving money is a challenge for all of us. It can be even more difficult with the consumerism being shoved down our throats at ever advertisement. Everywhere we go, we are encouraged to spend, spend, spend! 9 times out of 10, we purchase things that we don’t even need. If you want to get serious about saving and living minimally, you really have to turn your blinders on and weed out a lot of unnecessary influences. Simply by disconnecting my cable TV, I not only reduced my monthly bills, but I also stopped watching so many TV commercials.
Commit To The Goal
Once I made the decision to move to Thailand and start a location independent business, I had to commit with full execution. I needed a solid savings plan in order to sustain my travel lifestyle abroad. Getting started was surprisingly easy once I created a simple savings plan.
Create a savings plan. A good savings plan will have 5 steps:
- Assessment – Compare your trip plan to the reality of your financial situation. Is it feasible, or are you dreaming too big? Make hard decisions. Be honest. Once you’ve got a general idea of your trip’s overall cost, create a spreadsheet that lists your income vs. your expenses to see how everything stacks up.
- Setting goals – Your savings plan should include several goals, some short-term and some long-term. List your goals in specific numbers and don’t be shy to shoot high. But, not so high it kills your enthusiasm for your big trip (people have traveled around the world on nothing!).
- Creating a plan – This savings plan details how you’ll accomplish your goals. This could done by removing unnecessary expenses, setting a strict spending budget, or adding additional income to meet your goals.
- Implementation – Put your plan in motion and stick with it.
- Monitoring and reassessment – As time passes, your plan will evolve as your spending habits change. Take a look at your progress every month and examine the budget for possible adjustments.
Easy Ways To Save
After investing some time into crafting a savings plan, I took it up a few more notches. Here are the top 5 ways that I got my savings account set up to begin my travel journey.
1. Investment Apps
Believe me when I say this, but downloading a simple app to my smartphone helped me save $600 in less than 4 months. I was able to purchase my one-way tickets to Thailand. My friend Gabriel recommended I try Acorns.
The Acorns app invests your spare change. It rounds-up to nearest dollar every debit/credit card purchase and micro-invests the difference. Make automatic daily, weekly & monthly investments. Every purchase you make can become an investment with Round-Ups.
Acorns makes it easy to transfer money over from another account and every time you go online to check your balance, transfer some money, even if it’s just $5. Make it fun. Make it a habit. Make it natural. Make it painless. Revel in its growth!
I personally don’t want to obsess about saving, but with Acorns I check the balance every few weeks. It’s a nice surprised to see your balance grow so easily.
Download the app and start growing your travel funds!
2. Declutter & Sell Items
A few years ago I turned off my cable TV and started buying used DVDs from a local shop called Movie Exchange. Cameron and I made it our Friday night ritual to pick out DVDs for pizza night. After 5 years our DVD collection grew exponentially and when it came time to move to Thailand, I had boxes of DVDs to get rid of.
I learned about the Decluttr app, a fast, free and easy way to sell CDs, DVDs, games, books & tech! It’s completely free, and it’s easy to get started too. Here’s how it works:
The Decluttr app turns your smartphone’s camera into a bar code scanner, providing you with a super-quick way to value your items!
It’s available on both Android and iPhone, so why not give it a try?
3. Clean Your Closet
I’m a reformed fashion hoarder and I’m proud to say I’ve gone 2 months without purchasing a new pair of shoes. That’s a huge milestone for someone who used to easily spend $300 every time I went to Target.
Before I left for Thailand, I donated 80% of my wardrobe. I sold the more expensive items to a local resell shop, had a big garage sale and gave the rest away to my sister & a local thrift shop.
I made up to $400 from selling clothes I hardly even wore. Imagine what you can do with $400. That’s your passport and money to put towards your flight or hotel stay.
The next time you clean your closet, set aside some items that you can resell and donate the rest. Also, think twice before you purchase any new items. Start shopping in your closet or visit a friend’s to trade or borrow items.
4. Earn some extra income
A lot of us are currently working multiple jobs to make ends meet. There’s nothing wrong with having multiple income streams, in fact, that’s not a bad idea if you want to reach financial freedom.
Several years ago, I was a broke single mother looking for a way to earn some extra cash while working from home. I was already working a full-time 9 to 5 job, but needed something part-time to supplement my income. I worked at a wine bar as a line cook for a while but the hours were too late and I couldn’t always find a babysitter for my son.
One of my favorite hobbies was baking. I decided to sell my baked items and begin my own dessert catering company Southern Girl Treats. The business took off faster than I expected and I was constantly filling orders daily. I ran the part-time dessert catering for 5 years until I decided to start my own mobile DJ service.
DJing has been a hobby since I was 4 years old. I grew up around my uncles who DJ’d local events. They would let me hang out in the DJ booth and help pick out records to play. I loved it! I didn’t consider it as a job until 2009 when a friend gave me his old turntables to practice on. I practiced daily but never played an actual gig until my hair stylist found out I could mix. She set up my first gig for well-known Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee’s daughter Erica Lee’s board of education election night party.
Listen to a few of my DJ mixes on my Curated Vibes Soundcloud page.
From that point on, I was booking gigs left & right. I started selling “Good Vibes Only” t-shirts and even created a line of holistic skin care products (which is still in works). I’ve been hustling for a long time.
Taking on a side gig doesn’t have to be grueling or even take up a lot of time. I turned my hobbies into a lucrative side business that didn’t interfere with my full-time job’s work schedule and was still able to manage my son’s extracurricular activities.
Now that I’m a full-time entrepreneur, I see how important it is to have multiple streams of income flowing in. You always need to be prepared to have a back up plan to back up your back up plan.
There are several ways to generate extra income, now that I’m living as a digital nomad, I prefer to keep them all online.
Have you ever heard the statistic that millionaires have an average of seven streams of income?
Check out my last blog post on ways to make money as a digital nomad to learn more on how you can earn extra income.
5. Simplify Your Life
Assess your expenditures
Make a spreadsheet and list out every one of your daily/monthly expenditures. Organize them into two columns: “Needs” and “Wants”. Slowly eliminate all the “wants” from the things you regularly purchase.
Spend less on dining out
Back in the day when I would ask my Mom for McDonalds, she would say “you better get in that kitchen and make you some McDonalds”. I used to hate hearing that, but now that I have a 12-year-old who can eat the entire grocery store, I understand.
It may be as simple as not getting a $2.50 drink (tap water is highly underrated as a beverage!) but make a point of spending less than $8 on your lunch. Those savings will add up. Say you go out to eat five times a week. Just trimming your lunch cost from $12 to $8 saves you $832 a year! For even more savings, pack a lunch if you’re able.
Thankfully, I enjoy cooking so I don’t mind cooking my meals from scratch. Once I decided to live the minimalist lifestyle, I had to cut back on my dining expenses. I was spending $40 a day on breakfast and lunch near my office. Once I started packing my breakfast and lunch for work, I instantly saved more money.
Going out to bars and clubs will force your account balance to go down faster than a Swiss cheese boat…with only a headache to show for it in the morning. Keep your travel goals in mind and invite your friends over for drinks. That $8 bottle of wine would’ve cost $25 at the bar!
I’m an introvert, so staying home was always easy for me. I prefer a quiet night at home over being in a loud bar or club. I DJ so I would be out a lot during the weekends, but it was easy since I was getting paid and didn’t have to spend much money on drinks or food. It’s one of the many perks of DJing.
Overall, don’t get caught up in the FOMO (failure of missing out) hype. It’s easy to see your friends posting pics on Instagram, but imagine what your Instagram feed will look like months after saving up to take that nice vacation!
Kill the cable TV dead
You’ll be surprised how fast your savings add up when you ditch cable TV. Several friends of mine pay up to $150 a month for their cable. That’s insane, it adds up to $1,800 a year. Even a more reasonable rate of $99 (the average monthly cost of cable TV in the United States, as of 2016) still ends up being $1,188. That could fund an entire trip to lots of places in the world! Besides, there are plenty of free and cheap ways to get your entertainment. Netflix is $10 a month. Books are cheaper than movies.
Cancel your gym membership
Instead of that overpriced gym membership, exercise outdoors, run in the fresh air. Swallow your pride and utilize those strange public fitness things in the park. The world is a cardio machine. Watch the calories burned outside turn into greenbacks in your bank account!
There are several ways to cut cost, these are just a few to help you get started.
Be Shameless About Saving
If you’re serious about living a travel lifestyle, you will have to make some sacrifices. Stop worrying about what other people think if you don’t drive the newest car or wear the latest fashion trends. Once you stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, your life will transform in unimaginable ways.
Trust me, you won’t starve to death or live in a cardboard box. You simply need to evaluate your currently lifestyle and spending habits to determine if this is a commitment you are willing to make.
I can’t stress enough how minimalism improved my quality of life. It helped me eliminate distractions while creating space for more important things.
Once you decide to live on less, you will discover that you don’t need a lot to be happy.
Start saving and start living a higher quality life!
Less is more!
Do You Want To Travel More?
Feel free to reach out and I am more than happy to share any additional resources on saving money for travel! Leave me a comment below, I can’t wait to vibe with you! Peace & Good Vibes!