Not having the cash seems to be the number one excuse people give as to why they aren’t pursuing their dreams. Don’t let that be what stops you. Anyone can afford to follow their dreams, if they decide that is what’s most important to them.
Having traveled throughout most of my 20s, most people assumed that my parents or some random sugar daddy funded the adventures that brought me around the world.
And now, being a super mega promotor of living unconventionally, professional life included, I get many weird looks when I talk about making a living any other way but by working for the man.
So, before we get into money talk, I wanted to clarify a few things. I am solely in charge of my own financial sustainability. I get no free passes. There are no hidden trust funds or lurking millionaires hanging around.
I should mention though, that although there I get no cash handouts, I am lucky enough to have been born in Canada. My homeland provided me with all the basic necessities to live healthily and safely. Although this might seem basic, without this luxury I wouldn’t be able to live with such financial freedom.
Besides that though, how I manage my money has been a giant contributor to helping me be able to follow through my (money dependent) dreams. As usual, I just had to be willing to do things a bit differently.
In order to help you build your own dream-pursuing financial philosophies, let me tell you about some game-changing gems I’ve realized about money. Hopefully, using these ideas as guidelines, you too can find the dough to follow through with your dreams.
The magic formula
Let’s go back to that Personal Finance 101 class.
The first thing you gotta do is figure out how much your life costs you to live. I know, no one likes talking budgeting, but we’re just talking basics here. How much do you spend each month? Do it, for real. Most online banks give you a summary where they break it down for you.
Then, consider how much you earn. Don’t forget to consider all your income streams.
Most people who see both these numbers think that if they wanna have more money left over at the end of the month, they’ll need to earn more. So they do overtime, get second jobs or work their asses off to get promoted, so that each month they have more cash to play around with.
This option seems like a never-ending vicious cycle. You’ll surely manage to earn more, which will inevitably make you spend more and at the end of the day, you’ll have the same lack of funds to invest in your dreams.
And as an addition shitty consequence of this strategy, you will have delayed your happiness and wellbeing for yet another chunk of your life. Time, my friend, is something we can’t buy back, no matter how much you earn.
So, this leaves us with one other option; figure out how to spend less money.
This is the easiest and most useful money tip around. Stop spending on so much useless shit.
No one needs dozens of pairs of shoes or endless piles of kids’ toys unless of course, you are a shoe designer or a daycare provider. If not, stop buying so much of that crap.
Not only is it limiting your ability to follow through with other dreams, but it’s horrible for our planet. It’s wasteful and unbeneficial to your happiness.
Seriously, if you have any shirts in your closets with the tags still on them, then I have no doubt that this is the root of the problem, consumerism. Learn how to confront your addiction to buying.
How to Spend Less
Be conscious of what you buy. That’s it. There’s no greater mystery to this strategy.
Whenever you are going to take out your wallet, ask yourself if this is really something you need. What benefit will buying this product or service bring to your life?
Start with the obvious stuff, like clothes and supermarket indulgences. At first, this might be tough because you’ve created a habit of buying unconsciously. But just like anything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
We live in a society that tries to convince us to buy every time we turn our heads. Develop the skill to resist the urge.
For me, it really helps if I avoid going to places to make me spend uselessly, like the mall. Then, when I do have to go there for something specific, I walk in with my mission in mind and leave once I’m done. I don’t wander around or spend any time window-shopping. If I’m looking to take a stroll, I do it in the park, not the building that is made to convince me to buy.
Same goes for the supermarket. I walk in with a list in hand and walk out with exactly the things on my list. It’s crazy how quickly extra supermarket splurges amount to if they happen every time you go buy food.
Once you get more comfortable with the idea of spending less, start to question more “common expenses”, like your car or your cell phone bill. Use your creativity to see if there are ways to reduce or fully cut out some of these monthly overhead costs. Maybe by getting rid of your car, and doing car sharing whenever you need some wheels, you can cut down on a massive monthly expense. Every cent you manage to not spend uselessly gives you a tad more freedom to do something wild with your funds.
Finding Happiness in Simplicity
The less I buy, the less burdened I feel by my things. It’s funny how when we have a lot of stuff, we don’t realize the stress and space these things take up in our homes and minds.
As my home has very little toys in it, it helps me be more conscientious of how I use my time. Spending time with loved ones, out in nature, or working on a project that fulfills me brings me exponentially more joy and satisfaction than any fancy car or new cell phone ever could.
It’s easier to recognize the value of these simple pleasures when you don’t have a ton of things around distracting your every thought.
Enjoy the Freebies of Life
Love, friendship, getting out in nature and free park yoga are some of my very favorite gifts from the world. All of these are free activities that fill up my days.
Instead of packing your schedule with expensive dinners out and nights at the movies that include 20$ popcorn and drink, check out what types of free activities go on in your town. Fill up your days with the low-cost, high satisfaction activities. Invite a friend over for dinner, volunteer to hang out with animals or if you love going to the cinema or museums, check out their cheap days. Most places have them. Be resourceful.
Be Cool with Being Frugal
Change your mindset about counting your coins. There’s nothing wrong with living frugally. Don’t let it bother you if others judge you for being conscious of how you spend your hard earn coins.
The people who most often judge me for being cheap, are often times those who are the most wasteful with their money. I let their judgments slide off my back. There’s no reason to obsess over their opinion when I’m sure we have blatantly different financial or lifestyle goals.
An additional bonus here is that often times being frugal helps to reduce the waste of our planet’s resources. Buying uselessly is not only bad for your wallet, your happiness and your ability to invest in your dreams, but also ensures the continued production of too much crap. All that junk inevitably ends up filling up our landfills and seas and wastes the precious resources of our earth. Stop buying shit that you’ll use once and throw out. Save money, and the planet and learn to live without that goddam plastic straw.
Making Travel Cheap
As I started this article talking about cheap long-term travel, I wanted to dive into this a bit.
The way I was able to wander around the world for so long, with such limited funds is because I worked everywhere I went. I’d figure out where I wanted to go, figure out different ways of going about working in that specific country (visas and such), find work, stay for a bit and then leave to do it all over again elsewhere. (Now, with the booming opportunities of working remotely, this is now easier than ever. You can work wherever in the world you are without having to change jobs.)
So, not only did I earn money along the way, but as you can guess from my love of frugalness, I also kept my expenses to a bare minimum.
As a gallivanter, the space in my backpack was always limited. That made avoiding buying unless crap way easier. Plus, extra “home expenses” like a car (and its gas, insurance, repairs…), dinners out in nice restaurants and monthly hairdresser appointments, just weren’t part of my lifestyle. It’s not to say I didn’t ever eat out, but, nor I, nor the friends I made along the way were much into fancy anythings.
It made sustaining this lifestyle quite easy financially.
Although for some, the question is How can I afford to follow my dreams? For me, it’s clear. How can you afford not too?
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