Travelling made me better at managing my money. Before I went away travelling last year I was horrendous with my money, and the things I valued most were fancy dinners, pretty clothes and my funky London flat overlooking Clapham Common!
I had been in debt for all of my adult life. Not unmanageable debt, but I was probably paying out about a quarter of my monthly wage on credit card bills and money I owned family. On top of that I was spending the rest of my money on material things just to make myself feel good in the moment. I wasn’t saving or even thinking about the future.
Not a great place to be at really, but with the years of banks giving out credit like it was water, and not having the best role model when it came to spending money (sorry mum!), I never saved anything and all my money was gone before the end of the month.
This being said, as of 2013 I was in a much better place. I had been earning a good wage for a while, I have finally realised I was being a fool paying £1,500 a month on my flat, and had paid off most of my debts. 2014 would have been the year that I became debt free if I had not decided to go travelling instead!
Now, I was on zero interest so my thinking was, what was another year when I could have the experience of a lifetime!…yes this was the mentality that had got me into this situation in the first place! anyway…going travelling may have meant an extra year of being in debt, BUT it was an experience that actually helped my mentality when it came to managing my finances, which I had not foreseen.
1. Saving money for the first time
Saving a large amount of money to go travelling takes some discipline. You have to forgo a lot of the things you might have usually spent money on, such as nights out, gym membership, that nice pair of heels or even your extortionate rent!
I moved back to my parents, basically gave up my social life, and put as many spare pennies I could into my savings account.
This made me appreciate and value my money to the point where I resented having to spend it!
2. Tracking my spending whilst away
When actually travelling I recored everything! Into my trusted TrailWallet app I recorded everything I spent to the point where it actually became an obsession, but it meant I knew exactly how much I was spending on average per day, meaning I could stick to my daily budget.
This meant I was more calculated when spending money, as I could physically see the dent it was making in my wallet, and I would start to panic if I went over my £21 a day budget!
3. Knowing how much a day in Southeast Asia cost
I know from experience it costs me £21 on average per day to travel Southeast Asia. Since being back in the expensive UK, I have this internal barometer (that I didn’t even ask for, but am so glad I now have) that basically compares everything I spend here to how many days it would get me in Southeast Asia!
So, for example…if I were to want to buy a £50 jacket, I instantly think “I could get 2 days in SEA for that”…and it’s relentless! This has saved me from many an extravagant purchase that I didn’t need, and I’m glad for it.
I’ve been called a cheapskate in the last 6 months, but that is music to my ears! Never again will I be bad with money and chuck money ‘down the drain’ on material things that I just don’t need, and it feels good.
Material items and nice dinners no longer hold any value for me – and at one point I loved nothing more than a bottle of Champagne and a fancy dinner in London! What does hold value to me now is my nearest & dearest, and the love of travel!