Archive for July, 2009

Homeless and Unemployed

I completed two major tasks on the trip ‘to do’ list this week – I moved out of my house and quit my job.

I officially moved out of my duplex on Monday.   I lived there for over 6 years, which is  longer than I’ve lived anywhere in my life; it felt strange to leave a place that I called home for the majority of my twenties.  

My little ‘tree house’ is in a great neighborhood – it’s a ten-minute walk to Zilker Park, a two-minute walk to Barton

Trailside Tree House

Trailside Tree House

Springs, and most importantly, a $7 cab ride to downtown.  Factor in a huge kitchen and bedroom, an outdoor deck surrounded by gigantic oak trees, an awesome neighbor, cheap rent and you’ve got yourself the perfect pad!  

I’ll miss the close proximity of the Town Lake running trails, the string of restaurants that were within walking distance of my front door, and my morning coffee from Barton Hills Market.   I’ll miss the fact that after partying in 100 degree heat all day at the Austin City Limits Festival, I was only a drunken stumble away from the air-conditioned comfort of my home while the other sweaty concert goers had to wait an hour for a bus back to the parking garage.  I’ll miss having drinks on my upstairs balcony, playing Trivial Pursuit on the living room floor, and all of the countless late night conversations between my friends and I that took place there over the years.  Hell, I’ll even miss the smelly guitar-playing homeless guys that I

Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs Pool

would pass by on my way to Barton Springs. 

But at the same time, I was ready to leave.  In all honesty, the place hasn’t felt the same since my long-term-roomie Julie moved out last year and for many months now, I’ve practically been living at my boyfriend’s house anyway.  It felt good to throw away all of the crap I had accumulated over the years (seriously, did I really need two VHS copies of ‘Overboard’?)  and liberating to know that everything I own will now be stuffed into a back pack.  

Then yesterday, I gave my notice at work.  I woke up with my stomach in knots, realizing that I was about to quit a perfectly good job in a crummy economy.   I can’t tell you how many times in the past six months that I have muttered the words ‘I cannot WAIT to quit my job’…but now that the time had come, I was a nervous wreck about it.  I think I’ve mentioned that I’m a sucker for stability so the thought of no steady income and no health insurance really stresses me out.  

However, I knew that quitting my job was one of the sacrifices to be made in order to travel for such a long period of time.  I also reminded myself that it’s just a job and there are  tons of other jobs to be had when I get back.  So I took a few deep breaths and told my boss that I would be leaving in 30 days and the whole process couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  Afterwards, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted…I’ve been carrying my little secret around the office for months and it was great to finally have it out in the open.  

I plan to celebrate my new status as an unemployed homeless person this weekend with a bottle of wine and a leisurely canoe trip down the South Llano River! 

Oh and Happy 27th Birthday Kelly!  Thanks for getting me good and liquored up at your birthday celebration the night before I had to meet with my boss.  In addition to my stomach being in knots, I also had an excruciating headache.  Good times!

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When Kim told me she was planning this amazing trip in the fall of 2006, I instantly wanted to go.  To most, it would seem impossible to save $30K in 2.5 years.  Not to mention I was already $7K in debt.  But if you know anything about me, you would know that if I want something, I GET IT. I work my butt of until I achieve whatever goal I set my sights on.   Whether it is 2 senior trips, graduating from UT, moving to Spain, or saving a crap-load of money for a once in a life time opportunity, if I work hard, I usually accomplish my goals. 

CashFirst off, I looked at lowering some of my daily/weekly costs of things I “wanted”.  Everyone knows there is a difference (sometimes a very fine lineJ) between wants and needs.  Here are some of the things I started doing to pay off my debt and start stackin’ up the cash: 

Quit smoking

Okay, so this only lasted about 4 months with a couple 1-2 month stints afterwards.  I’m currently still smoking but STILL plan on quitting before I leave. AHH! But with the amount of cigarettes I smoked, this saved me $5-10 a day.  Smokes are insanely expensive but I would also always end up buying gum, drinks, beer, etc. when I went in to by cigarettes. This would average out to almost $3k/year. 

Cook meals at home

This is pretty self-explanatory.  I would literally cook every meal, Monday through Thursday at home.  This was obviously before I got the second job.  Eating out can cost anywhere from $20-$50 for a drinker like me.  Only eating out 1-2 times a week vs. 3-4 would save me almost $4k/year.

Gotta love that FLASK!!

I know what some of you are thinking, what a cheap ass!  But hell, when you are working toward a goal like this and still want to have nightlife and go out with friends, sometimes you have to do things you aren’t proud of.  I would carry my flask full of Vodka in my purse every time I went out.  I’d order club soda or juice at the bar, give em’ the ol’ “I’m the DD” speech, along with a huge smile and tip, and head to the bathroom to mix it up! They usually wouldn’t even charge me for the “mixer”.  I would literally spend maybe $20 for a long night of fun!  $20 vs. $50-$60 could save you up to $5k/year. 

Weekly Transfers/Discipline

For the past 4 + years, I’ve been paid weekly.  At the end of every week, whatever money was still in my account, I’d transfer to my savings account.  I would never let it roll over or set it aside for something else. If it wasn’t in my checking account, it didn’t exist.  So I would just get it out of there. I was very strict with this.  Even when I was out with friends and I would make a comment about only having a few beers because “I was broke”, they would say, “whatever! You have a ton of money!”  And I would immediately snap back, “that money doesn’t exist.”  You HAVE to have that outlook if you want to keep building up your balance. 

Decrease Rent/Bills 

I lived in a one bedroom apartment for 4 years up until April 1st, 2009. One summer I had a friend crash in my dining room and pay me $300/month.  I cancelled my cable in the fall of 2008. As of April 2009, I have lived at my sister’s place paying $325/month total for rent and bills.  On July 1st, I moved into another friends place, paying about the same.   This decreased my expenses by about $430/month.  


Again, this one is a given.  One of the main things I had to do without is air conditioning in my car.  And with 105 degree Texas weather, this had to be one of my biggest sacrifices.  IT’S SO HOT! However, the cost to fix it is how much I’ll spend my entire time in Costa Rica plus some. I just can’t seem to justify it.  

I also pretty much eliminated personal shopping.  For everything. I’ve spent maybe $1000 on clothes in the past 3 years.   And that includes work clothes for my second job.  

That leads me to one of my other biggest sacrifices.  TIME.  With only $14K in the bank and only 9 months to go, I Cover 3started my second job in December 2008.  I work 40 hours a week doing sales and then another 25-30 hours at Cover 3, an upscale sports dining restaurant.  Luckily, it’s the best second job I could have asked for.  Great place, amazing food, great staff, great money, and I love the guys I work for.  It’s perfect. But again, working as many shifts as I do, I have had no time for TV, the gym (and I was a GYM RAT for 2.5 years), and I barely have time to hit the grocery store.  It’s crazy.  I also have A LOT less time to spend with friends and family. I hate that.  But it will all be worth it!   I literally don’t touch a dime of what I make at the restaurant.  It goes straight into the bank.  I average about $350-$400 a week. In all 9 months, I should have about $14K from the second job when we leave.  

WOW. I myself still can’t believe what I’ve done!  But, anyone can do it.  You just have to DO IT.  Good Luck!



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The Big 3-0

pinataA lot of people hate turning 30 because they feel bad about all of the things they should have accomplished by then, but haven’t even come close.  In my naïve younger years, I thought by thirty I’d be making a gazillion dollars, driving some kick-ass car, married with three kids, two dogs and own an impressive wine collection.  Now that my time has come, I must confess that I haven’t accomplished one of those things, nor do I necessarily want to.  Well, maybe I’d like to have the wine collection.  

The fact that I hit The Big 3-0 right before Kelly and I leave is no coincidence…I chose this landmark year for many reasons.  First, one of the key steps in planning long-term travel is to set a departure date and stick to it.  When I began planning, I told myself I would leave within 6 months of my 30th birthday.  This also gave me a reasonable amount of time to save a ton of cash.  But most importantly, as I came into my mid-twenties, my goals and priorities changed…I wanted something different than a nice car, high-paying job, and 3-bedroom house.  I wanted to have adventure, to meet new people, travel, and experience something that few others I know have experienced.  Those other ‘things’ would have to wait. 


Yes, that is a S'mores cake

Am I disappointed that I have no ‘grown-up’ possessions to my name?  Hell no!  On my 30th birthday, I can proudly say that I am accomplishing my goals and achieving everything that I have set out to do…it may just be different from what everyone else I know is doing!  I am exactly where I want to be and couldn’t be happier about my life.  

In addition to the commencement of our round-the-world trip, here are a few other reasons I am thrilled to be thirty: 

–   My friends can’t tease me anymore for going home at 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday night…I’m old, I need my sleep!

–   I read that a woman’s sex drive peaks during her 30’s.  Nice. 

–   If I ever date a younger man, I will be referred to as a ‘Cougar’.  Reason #2 above will come in handy if this is ever the case. 

–   Like my Dad once told me, I’m young enough to have fun and old enough to afford it. 

–    My man and friends organized an awesome birthday weekend that included lots of alcohol, hotdogs, river canoeing, s’mores, a piñata, and some sweet cheerleader moves. 
Life is good!
We love Big Sunglasses

We love Big Sunglasses

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