Your Account is Overdrawn.
Funny how that subject line pops right out from between "People you may know on Google+" and "✈ This One’s Big! 72 Hours Only -- Flights Starting At $49, $99, $129, or $149 One-way*".
Day 2 and we're out of money. Shit.
This snapped me out of my early morning daze pretty abruptly. Log in real quick to the bank, see what's going on.
Turns out we had a couple of unexpected expenses come in and I'd not left enough money in the checking account to cover them. In a spasm of thriftiness, I'd over-transferred my money to my savings account.
So, we're not out of money (Less the $10 damn dollars the bank charges for the convenience of transferring electronic money from one pretend ledger to another in the case of overdraws). But the next thought is this:
Very shortly, we will have no income.
This is like the antithesis of the American Dream. Soon we're gonna be bumming around the world, working where we can, but probably can't count on a stable or reliable source of funding. And that was the point, right?
From here on out, every dollar I spend is gone, not to be replenished. When we run out, the trip is over, and real life is back on. Any financial mistakes I make now are coming right out of my dreams.
Budget, finances, saving, philosophy
We're going to write a lot about budgeting on this blog, so I won't go crazy with it here. We talked last night about content here, and who was going to do what, and I think JT is a bit more suited to cover the practicalities of how we actually pull this off. But here's the rundown from a very high level:
- Average budget is shooting for $100 a day. At this level, we have enough funds saved to cover us for well over a year of travel AND have money in the account to help us reintegrate into our lives.
- We are going to attempt to hit this goal with the help of generosity. In practice this means couchsurfing, work exchanges, rideshares, and plain ole' mooching off you, our friends.
- We're going to cook our own food, stay in budget locations, and avoid peak travel times. We're going to be opportunistic in our traveling as well, not being so rigid in our planning that we can't take advantage of a good deal or chance to do something cheap.
- Where we can find contract work, we will. So if you know anyone who needs a brilliant writer or master spreadsheet jockey, please let us know.
- When the money is out, the trip is over. Full stop.
What this means, in practice, is that the trip is much less a yearlong vacation and much more a yearlong pilgrimage. In a very real sense, money and time have become the same thing for us.
The philosophy is that we can make do with less, increasing the value of our experiences while decreasing the costs. How many times in our lives do we spend a large amount of money on things that fail to live up to their expense. If you spend $60 going out to the club and buying drinks and living it up, how does that compare to buying a $6 bottle of wine and spending an afternoon with your friends in a park? Was the club 10 times more valuable to you as an experience? Will you even remember it?
See, the funny thing is that we're all living in this money/time dynamic, but the abstraction of modern living makes it hard to see. I work (give my time) for my money, and I spend my money (my time) to acquire things of value. All too often, those things are very heavily advertised to me as solving all of my problems. Houses, cars, alcohol, clothes will get my happiness, confidence, satisfaction, sex. And there's a huge part of my brain that is panicking at the thought that I'm extracting myself from all this promise.
I'd hate it if it sounds like I have the answer to things. I don't. My only hope is that by forcing ourselves to live at length in a minimal fashion we'll get closer to finding out what is truly valuable.
(PS - for a huge dose of humble pie of a financial nature, check out this thread on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1g2t15/whats_the_most_pathetic_thing_poverty_has_forced/
I'm so grateful to my parents that I never had to experience this. I feel like we should all save pieces of this post to read for the next time we get really annoyed that the wifi is spotty at Starbucks. Every time I start thinking that I know what living is all about, I should reread this.)