How Do I Afford It?
People often ask me how I can afford to quit my job, go to Africa, California, Hawaii, and China, move to New York, and survive until I find some source of income. Let me explain.
I was blessed with financial support from my family. My first car was a hand-me-down but free. That car blew up. Replacement car was a hand-me-down but free. College was paid for by both my parents and my grandmother. No student loans to pay off. free college.
I bought my Mazda RX-8 myself. however, I had help with that too. I traded in my old car and had funds that my parents didn't tell me about. That plus the trade in paid for about 1/3 of the car. I put in a lot of money every month to the point I didn't really save much from my paycheck after bills. It took me less than 4 years to pay it off.
I had an amazing amount of help from my parents and others to go to africa. I had a free international flight the first time, and a lot of cash both times. It was a truly significant amount of financial support, but far from free.
I do a lot of research when making purchases. Off peak, on sale, in bulk, with reward points, no tax, no shipping. When I buy stuff, I do research like i'm buying a house.
I don't spend a lot of money. Having a roommate for several years kept things cheaper. For a few scattered months, I lived with my mom rent-free. I don't go to Starbucks. I don't drink alcohol. I eat lots of leftovers. I park for free and walk. I don't have a house to maintain. For several years I lived really close to work. I walked a lot. I buy DVDs that are either cheap or I just have to have them, which has happened maybe a handful of times. I've even stopped ordering anything to drink at restaurants other than water.
I have no credit card debt. I was taught to always pay it off every time. That way I'm not tempted to spend money that I don't have. Plus I hate the idea of paying interest and making things more expensive than they are on the price tag. As much free stuff credit card companies give you, I get satisfaction from sticking it to the credit card companies.
The things that occupy my time are cheap. I play games a lot. I watch movies and sports. I program. I read. I make home movies.
Over long periods of time, it all adds up in a positive way. But I also think it's not how much you have in savings. It's how you use what you have. I met some people in Africa who didn't have nearly the means that I did. One girl even had to borrow money from a friend just to get there. But she did it. When she got home, she worked her butt off again and paid her back. I was lucky enough to come home to a job. A lot of the people I met weren't as lucky. But none of these things kept them from doing something as wonderful as volunteering in Africa for several months with no income. In other words, part of "how I do it" is a perspective thing too.
Also, I'm potentially depleting all my funds doing all this traveling and moving. When else am I going to use it? And for what? I already know what I want to do with my money now. Why not go to Africa, Hawaii, and China? I'm so used to coming up with excuses not to spend money on things, this is my vacation from that. What if I kept hoarding and hoarding, and by the time I wanted to spend it traveling, I wasn't in a position to spend it? I quit my job to move to New York. But before I go, I'm milking the time I have to do what I love doing. I have savings for the future, and my future is coming up very soon.
There are so many times I wish I could ask people, "How much savings would it take you to take a leap?" My logic is that if my current savings is more than their answer, it would validate my decisions. But I hold back asking as an exercise. I have to keep reminding myself that it's not about money. It's about comfort. And a lot of times having money is what gives me comfort. I don't want money to be the reason that holds me back. If I can get used to this idea, then there's nothing except myself that holds me back. Meeting some people in Africa, I know that there are people that have done a lot more than I have with a lot less. That gives me comfort. But the real benefit will come when I face my own fears. And what REALLY, should I be afraid of? I'm about to take steps to make my dreams come true. I've worked hard and it's turned into savings. I'm ready to buy my dreams with that.