Posts Tagged ‘Pre-Trip’

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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100 Days

And the countdown begins…

We officially have 100 days until our departure!!!

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Kelly is a wuss

Kelly is a wuss

Kelly and I got the first round of jabs for our trip today.  The medical travel consultant at Austin Regional Clinic, Rebecca, was very gentle and made us feel as little pain as possible.  Needles don’t scare me, but Kelly was pretty freaked out about whole deal.  Seems strange for someone that’s had their belly button, eyebrow, and tongue pierced before, no? 

We both received our hepatitis A, B and polio shots.  Kelly got one for tetanus as well, along with a prescription for her oral typhoid vaccine (I already had these from my trip to Peru in 2006).  In another month we’ll go back for our yellow fever and round two of the Hepatitis B shots.  We also need to consider whether or not we want to get the meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine and what type of malaria medication we want to take.  Fortunately, our itinerary doesn’t require the

Kim takin' it like a champ

Kim takin' it like a champ

Japanese encephalitis shot, because the cost is about half a months rent!  We spent around $210 per person for the jabs we got today…a small price to pay to not contract a deadly virus during our travels.  Yay drugs!

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The Fab Four

Best Friends.  There is no feeling like knowing you can truly count and depend on others.  My girlfriends and I (otherwise known as ‘The Fab Four’) have been each other’s backbone since we were fourteen.  This weekend Sarah, Leah, January and I had a very much-needed girl’s weekend at Galveston Island.  We were also joined by ReeAnne, January’s sister, who has become like family in the past few years.   We knew it would be one of the last times we’d all be able to be together before Kim and I leave.  


Leah stubbing her toe...again

After a brief look at our originally booked room at The Islander (a.k.a. The Bates Motel…EEK!), we promptly checked into the Galvestonian a few blocks down.  It was an early 90’s beachfront condo that had everything we needed for an amazing weekend of drinking, laughing and debauchery.    Not to mention a killer ledge leading out to the balcony that we all stubbed our toes on at least four or five times!  Leah took the cake with a whopping 10 toe stubs!! 

 The weekend included yummy mimosas from Millers, a local restaurant that opened after Hurricane Ike, sunbathing, and all of us attempting to skin board thanks to Sarah’s impulse buy of a board that morning. We all busted it.  Awesome!  Sarah and I kicked the other ladies’ butts in volleyball and then we headed to the pool for a dip.  Leah had a few too many cocktails and was the loud drunk girl stumbling everywhere, and I was the one passed out in the lawn chair cooking in the sun.  Despite the painful sunburn, what a great afternoon!  We then went to the hotel room for a mega munchdown on January’s homeade chicken spaghetti before we got ready for the night. 

We spent the evening playing drinking games and laughing until we cried.  Sarah took some great film footage that will crack us up until we’re old and wrinkled, peeing in our diapers!

On Sunday, we had brunch before we all headed back to Austin and the Golden Triangle.   We decided to make this an annual event until the end of time! 

Again, spending time with people that you share mutual love and respect for is priceless.  No matter what happens in our lives or how long we are away from each other, ‘The Fab Four’ will always be there for one another, never skipping a beat.  It is so important to have and cherish these types of relationships in life! 

Once again, I know when I’m away and need my backbone, they will all be there.  Always…


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