Tag Archives: planning

But I want that…

Not buying is so much harder than you might think. Back in February, I adopted a rather hardline approach to my finances and declared: “I am no longer going to buy things I don’t need” (since we’ll be getting rid of everything next Spring). So easy, right?

Well, what might that entail?

Superfluous purchases, of course: Nice dinners out at restaurants instead of cooking. Going to the gym. Buying clothing that we won’t take with us. And so on.

How’s that going?

Yeah, not so well (I’m trying). But not entirely horrible. I did quit my gym, though I still assert that the YMCA is much better than any corpo-gym conglomerate out there (no soul sucking contracts and they do help the community). I started running in my neighborhood and doing half-assed sit ups in lieu of the treadmill and workout machines. No progress on the gut-o-meter yet, though.

Eating in is always difficult when you live in an area that has so much good food. Two nights ago it was Burmese, last night Tapas, and just now (for shame), a French soul food lunch (I did leave my turkey sandwich at home). I’ve tried to be diligent with grocery shopping, and I really do love cooking, but lately it seems it can be just as expensive to make your own food.

Everything does cost more in California.

As far as clothing, I know I will go utilitarian once we leave. I look forward to having 5 shirts to my name. It makes life easier, and I doubt anyone would notice, since I wear the same thing every day.

And in that, I realise the absurdity of living in the first world, where we worry about having TOO much…and ponder TOO many choices. We are truly lucky.

The least I can do is donate all of my clothing on our departure. Though, I’m sure there are better ways to do it than just going to Salvation Army (will have to look into this).

Streamlining to save is indeed quite an arduous task. It takes discipline and focus. Two things I’m hoping Mia will help me with once she returns to the Bay Area in a few weeks.

In the meantime, I should probably go patch up the holes in my shoes.



Maximize earnings potential (or something)

Back when we started talking about our leave (oh, the faraway land of February), I made a general estimate about the amount of money we might need in order to support ourselves overseas for 9 to 12 months: USD$15,000. Mia and I were on vacation, visiting my parents in Florida, and to me, the whole idea of dropping out of our daily lives (map in hand) to take up travel was still a “maybe.” The money, I figured, would be sorted out sooner or later.

Of course, the $15K was only an estimate, and not one thoroughly informed by the intricacies or unexpected things world travel entails. I had to start somewhere, I guess, and that seemed like a good, round and terrifyingly hard to reach number. Now that I’ve had a chance to do some more extensive research, a better number for us to have would be a nice, even more terrifying USD$20,000. Some will argue that even that isn’t enough, but our plans for workshares and volunteering will come up in future posts.

After I left Florida and got home, I started sorting through my finances. Bills, bills, BILLS. Ack. What could I cut? (How about running for FREE, outside [weird] instead of in a gym for USD$65 a month?) What could I absolutely not live without? (The internet. Do I even need to explain this?) And where the hell am I going to find this damn money? (TBD.) I figured I would try to save at least $12K myself to lift some of the burden off Mia, who is in the midst of a disparate transition from college to this bleak work-world.

The bad news is, I’ve never been a good saver. Back when I was a Boy Scout, I did indeed earn the Personal Finance merit badge, but my Mom taught the course, and perhaps nepotism (er, joke?) allowed for my slack on the specifics of how it actually “works,” and prompted the slide into the financial tumult I found myself in a decade later. Racked with student loan and personal debt from a cross-country move (and several other questionable moves) and years of knowing better, but not doing better, I am faced with some serious issues.

My salary is good, and would be GREAT, have I none of the aforementioned. But frankly, the goal is too strong to let the equally irresponsible financial sector pin me down to grinding away for “the man,” just so I can make good on my debts (Up the punks!) Not that I plan on running away from them (down the punks!), or declaring bankruptcy (hardly an easy task anymore). Rather, it’s time to own up and figure out how I can maximize earnings to keep me afloat overseas while squelching debt at home. Yeah, I cringed after typing that last sentence.

Over the past few years, I have occasionally taken part in research or focus groups to earn extra cash. My casual participation would yield $75 here, $100 there, and always free pizza and soda. One time we got an advertising company to pay us each $100 and buy us pizza and beer (always better than free soda).

Now, more than ever, these little paychecks have me scouring market research groups’ sites and Craigslist looking for opportunities to voice my opinions on everything from cell phone service to hair gel. One thing I can guarantee–they love a talker. Get your gab on and you’ll be hearing from these folks again.

Keeping up on this kind of thing can be tiring, especially if your day job frowns upon you scouring the internet for other work. But if you don’t mind getting up early (before work, of course), and checking Craigslist, you might find the most opportunities. The Bay Area isn’t exactly rife with early risers, so I’ve gotten plenty of call-backs for focus groups from replying to ads as soon as they go up.

Maybe a year or two ago, I would have frowned or look down on this kind of hustle and bustle for cash. Nowadays, with our journey (and co$t) in clear view, I’m prepared to take on any extra task. So, I ask you, “do you need your lawn mowed?”