How I Plan To Save $15,000 In 7 Months

Saving up a large sum of money in a short period of time may seem impossible. I haven’t proven that it’s doable yet, but many others before me have. I have student loan debt and, although my salary is decent for non-profit, I don’t make a ton of money. However, I still plan on saving aggressively over the next several months to make my dream of living a nomadic lifestyle a reality. In this post I will explain how I plan – and hope – to achieve this goal.

My goal is to have at least $20,000 in savings by the end of September. I started saving mid-November 2015 and have just over $5,200 in my Adventure Fund. (And that’s not counting the $1,000 I have in a separate account in case of emergencies at home before I go).

Selling Stuff

One of the biggest thing I’m doing is selling all of my belongings. Of course I’ll have a few sentimental items that I’ll leave at my parents’ house, but otherwise everything goes! Read more about that process here.

I have also decided to sell my car sooner rather than later and buy a cheap junk car to get my by until I go. I love my car and giving it up will not be easy. But I can potentially save upwards of $1,500 on monthly payments, depending on when I sell, and hopefully put a couple thousand more in the bank after selling it paying off the loan.

Cutting Costs

I am drastically cutting down on everyday expenses. My biggest weakness before this all started was eating out for lunch during the week; I have a busy job and it is much more convenient than going home or making something ahead.

I also never buy coffee out anymore. This wasn’t a daily expense for me, but I would buy an overpriced latte at Starbucks a couple times a week, and that can burn a hole in your wallet in a quick hurry.

Just like any other 20-something I enjoy happy hour and hitting the bars on weekends I rarely go out to eat or go out drinking with friends anymore. Instead I invite friends over to make dinner, watch Netflix, and drink boxed wine.

Switching Phone Carriers

By switching from AT&T to T-Mobile I will be saving about $30 per month on my cell phone bill, totalling approximately $210. This plan also has unlimited talk, which I didn’t have before, and unlimited data. I get 2GB hi-speed data, which is what I had before. If I go over 2GB I don’t get slapped with an extra fee like I did with AT&T, and I still get data, just at a slower speed.

Mobile Apps & Websites That Make Me Money

I use a variety of mobile apps, and one website, to make extra cash. My top picks are listed first.

InboxDollars: This is the only money-making website I use. It also has a free app on the App Store & Google Play. I’ve checked out a few others but to me this one is the easiest and most efficient. I have been a member since the end of November 2015 and have earned about $60 so far. There are a variety of ways to earn with IBD – learn more about it here.

Field Agent App (App Store & Google Play): Field Agent is a secret shopper’s app. I have earned $35 in about two months. There is no fee for cashing out and it sends it straight to your PayPal account, which you can then transfer to your bank.

SlideJoy App (available on Google Play only): SlideJoy pays you to run ads on your phone’s lock screen. I wish this app was available on the Apple App Store, because after I turn in my Droid work phone I won’t be able to take advantage of this app. I’ve had it for about six weeks and I have earned 451 carats, or $4.51. You have to keep the app open, but it doesn’t seem to drain my battery or use up lots data. Cash out options are available through PayPal, various gift cards, or donate your earnings to charity.

 

Taking On More Responsibility at Work

I have to be vague here, to maintain anonymity, since my employer is unaware of my plans. I am taking on some more responsibility at work, possibly in a couple of ways.

One will allow me to earn up to an additional $300 per month after I complete the training process, for which I will earn a $250 bonus. So I am looking at approximately $1500-$1700 in extra income before taxes.

There are some additional job duties that may be changing, for which I could earn a $3000 annual salary increase. I’ll be in my job for another seven months, so if this change does occur I will earn about $1500 extra.

Second Job & Odd Jobs

I now have a second job some evenings and weekends. I make $9.25/hr and work about 10 hours per week, give or take, so I could earn approximately $2,500 in additional income over the next seven months.

I am considering driving for Uber. I signed up but I haven’t actually done it yet. I have no idea how much money I can make with this.

I made $400 house and pet sitting for the week after Thanksgiving. If those friends need a house or pet sitter again in the next seven months I’ll be the first to sign up.

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The above tips may not be for everyone, but this is what I hope works for me. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Have you saved up a large sum of money in a short time frame, for travel or other reasons? If so tell me about it in the comments!

Taking Stock of My Life and Selling All My Stuff

Does that sound overwhelming or what?! That’s because it is. But for me it’s overwhelming in a  very exciting way. It is a very eye-opening experience to take inventory of all your belongings and, one-by-one, sell it all off. I have only just begun (I’ve sold almost $500 worth of stuff), and at this point I would highly recommend it. 

Ridding yourself of worldly possessions is like a spiritual awakening. All the burdens of everyday life and material things are being lifted from my shoulders and washed away. It’s actually a huge relief. 

I don’t need a ton of clothes & shoes, kitchen tools, books, and home decor to make me happy. I would much rather have a backpack full of essentials, support from my friends and family, and enough money in the bank to go out into the world and live free.

What I am doing isn’t temporary either. I don’t plan to come back a year from now and re-buy everything I’ve sold and have another 600 sq. foot apartment full of stuff. I might come back in a year, I might not; that is yet to be seen. But regardless of when I return, I plan to live more of a minimalist lifestyle.

Like I said before, this has been an eye-opening experience. I am learning that I can live with less; I don’t need 7 pairs of heels, 3 wine racks, 5 whisks, 3 cupcake racks, 10 bottles of lotion, and who knows how many pieces of clothing to be fulfilled. 

Update 8/18/16: I moved out of my apartment at the end of July and was able to sell almost everything, totaling about $2,600. I can now fit everything I own into my car – which I will be selling soon as well. Not being tied down by an apartment full of material things is very freeing!

Travel Prep: The Beginning Stages

Originally written 1/22/16

Yesterday I drafted my letter of resignation for work, six months in advance. I realize it may seem like I’m getting ahead of myself, but I like to stay on top of things. The end date listed, which is subject to change of course, is September 9th (update: my last day will be September 7th). By doing this I feel like I’ve given myself even more of a “real” deadline to save money, sell my belongings, make arrangements, etc. Speaking of which, let me explain some of what I’ve been doing so far to prepare.

Savings

The first week of December 2015 I opened a separate savings account for this endeavor and named it “Adventure Fund.” Within one month I had a little over $2,000 saved up, and today I have exactly $2,500. Keep in mind, I opened the account with about $500 I had already saved up from a house sitting gig (thanks Jannah!), starting to sell miscellaneous items, and rolling coins I got from my mom for helping her with stuff around my parents’ house (thanks, mom!). But still, that’s approximately $2,000 saved in just over one month. So how have I done it?

Cutting Costs

My biggest money sucker was food & alcohol (but mostly food). I don’t even want to begin to think about how much money I was wasting before on eating out, convenient pre-packaged food, going out to bars, buying craft beer and bottles of wine just because I liked the label (and I would find some crafty thing to do with that wine bottle later!…newsflash, I never did).

I have DRASTICALLY cut down on these expenditures. Yes of course I still grab lunch to go and go out every once in awhile, but I am much more conscientious of these decisions now. When I’m thinking about spending money on these things, instead of just focusing on the convenience, I try to think about how I could put that money to use while traveling. I remind myself: that $10 could buy me a night in a hotel in Southeast Asia, tapas in Barcelona, or a visit to the Parthenon in Athens. Those “little” expenses add up  to more days that I could spend exploring the world.

Selling STUFF

Yes, I am selling ALL of my stuff, except what I’m bringing with me and a few sentimental items and family heirlooms. Yes, that includes all of the truly wonderful gifts some of you have given me throughout the years. Please don’t feel bad about this – it’s going to help me achieve my goal of traveling all over the world and having some truly awesome experiences.

As much as I love all the baking books & supplies, jewelry, knick knacks, etc .that I’ve been gifted over the years, when it comes down to true enrichment most of that stuff isn’t doing it for me. Most of it won’t be any good to me while traveling, and it definitely won’t be any good sitting in storage. I have some great stuff, all of which is replaceable (and mostly unnecessary, really), that should be used and enjoyed, not collecting dust while I’m off gallivanting around the world. More on selling off (almost) all of my worldly possessions later.

Research

Travel blogs, travel books, and Pinterest, oh my! There is a TON of information out there about backpacking & long-term travel. It’s amazing how many people there are who have done exactly what I’m trying to do. I’ve learned a lot and have been inspired from reading several travel blogs. It’s a daily reminder that people just like me have sold all their belongings and quit their jobs to travel the world, and that I can do it too. These are my favorites so far:

I have also taken advantage of the travel book section at my local library. The best book for budget travel is How To Travel The World on $50 A Day by Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt.

And of course there’s Pinterest. I found all of the blogs I read on Pinterest, except Thrifty Nomads. I found that one when I did a Google search for “sell all possessions & travel.”  I like using Pinterest to organize resources; lots of things on Pinterest have a picture and a description of what’s on the site, which is helpful to look back and re-read stuff.

I often find myself going down a rabbit hole; I see a few things that look interesting so I open those, then each of those sites usually have a few more interesting things, and so on. But I’m perfectly content deep in my Pinterest rabbit hole reading about wonderful adventures travelers before me have had, and that I hopefully will have someday too.

My travel preparations are just beginning. Stay tuned for more on this subject later!