How to Afford a $10,000 Bike Tour
“It’s better to go on a vacation than buy a new couch’ is basically the idea,” says Professor Dunn, summing up research by two fellow psychologists, Leaf Van Boven and Thomas Gilovich
A lot of people dream of epic adventures. Some people actually get to go on them. You can to. Take a quick visit to this site: http://www.daystopay.com/ . Enter your salary, basic monthly expenses and cost of your dream trip and the site will quickly tell you how many days it will take you to save up enough for your dream trip. Its anonymous and it only takes a few minutes. For me the result was 421 days 3 hours and 21 minutes to go on this tour (full disclosure, I work for these guys)
So that’s about 15 months if I was to make the trip a priority and really start saving for it. That doesn’t seem so bad but it does work out to about $700 a month I’d have to save. Ouch. I’d probably have to give up on a few things like saving for retirement or for that new roof on my house to make that happen.
So I started thinking about what expenses could I cut to lower the amount I would have to save. Turns out, if I really work at cutting some expenses, I can afford the trip in two years without having to shift very much of my savings at all. Here’s how I could do it, perhaps some of these tips will be useful to you as well.
Here’s how, in less than two years, I will save enough to go on the adventure of my dreams.
Save Money (duh!)
Can’t get away with out some good old fashioned saving. It doesn’t matter how much to begin with, just start. Start with $100 a month. Open a free savings accounts dedicated to your dream adventure and start saving. Some banks are offering up to 2% interest these days. Set up an automatic transfer every month for the day after you get your paycheck. Forget about it, don’t even look at. You’ll never miss it. Savings after 1 year: $1200.
Small Savings add up:
My Bank has an interesting savings account called Way to Save. You open the account with $100 and can transfer up to $100 a month into the account. Pretty normal stuff but here is the kicker: every time you use you debit card a dollar is transferred into the savings account. Every time. Whether online shopping or buying groceries at the local Piggly Wiggly (yes we have grocery stores name Piggly Wiggly in the South, one of their big rivals is the Hoggly Woggly). Everytime you swipe your card $1 is transferred to you savings. I use my debit card for everything so for me that winds up being another $70 a month and I never miss the money. So that’s another $900 a year saved. So far the total is $2100 and its pretty pain free.
The lesson here is find a way to automate your savings in small daily or weekly increments. Pay yourself $5 for every bike ride you go on or for every time you commute to work, donate a dollar to your savings every time you turn on the TV. Or how about every time you you log into your online banking to check your balance or pay a bill, send $10 to your savings. Sounds kooky but it works.
Capitalize on Gifts
Tell your family and friends about your dream tour. Instead of a birthday sweater, father’s day tie or Christmas ipod ask them to deposit the money in your Adventure Savings account. Not only will this increase your savings but sharing your goal with family and friends can help motivate you. If I did that with my presents from last year I’d have an extra $600 in my bank. Sure it means I have to keep wearing my J-Crew Sweater from 1994 but I can deal with it. (I hear Cardigans are making a comeback anyway).
Total Saving so far: $2700 after 1 year. Wow. I’m ¼ of the way to my goal and I haven’t really changed my lifestyle or had to do any extra work yet. Awesome. But now it gets a little tougher.
You can sell anything on Ebay or Craigslist. Empty out your closets and sell stuff you haven’t used in over a year. I used to have 6 bikes. I loved those bikes. But really, I only needed 3 so I sold the other 3. Grand total for me? $3200! But lets be conservative. Let’s say you’ve got some old electronics, a collection of Harry Potter videos and few spare bike parts you want to get rid of. Lets say you’ll make $500 on Ebay with a few hours work.
Rob a bank
OK, just kidding about this one.
Bank those returns
A lot of people get tax returns, most people spend them. Put yours in your adventure savings account. Avg US income tax return in 2008? $2,900. Nice. Let’s put half that in our tour account. Now we’re up to $4650, almost halfway there. You can buy that 52” flat screen TV when you come back from cycling across a continent., if you still even want it.
This one might hurt a little. It requires a bit of sacrifice. Time to decide how serious you really are about this trip. Is it worth having only basic cable, or (gasp) no cable for a year? Is it worth fewer nights out on the town or cancelling your trips to the massage therapist?
We all have extravagances in our lives. We should. But now it’s time to decide what’s more important. My cable bill was $75 a month, now it’s $25 just for the internet and I watch movies on Netflix for $5 a month. My monthly gym membership was $60, now I just ride my bike. I also added another $50 a month to my savings and pack a lunch. That’s another $1860 towards my adventure savings by years end.
So far, for me anyway, these sacrifices are not unreasonable. I don’t miss cable and I don’t mind not eating out. $6510 in the bank after a year is certainly worth it. In two years I’ll be able to afford my dream trip.
Be a good Neighbor
Not for everybody but certainly you could make extra money by getting a second job. When I was in college I made $500 a weekend painting houses and I was just a dumb kid and really not even that good at painting. Dedicate two weekend days a month to doing add jobs for pay. Hang Christmas tree lights for people, rake or mow yards, shovel a sidewalk or two… There are lots of odd jobs you could do once or twice a month and make an extra $50. Most papers have a free handy man listing as does Craigslist. Start free google places page or Facebook Page and list what you can do and why you are doing it. “odd jobs for my adventure” People will dig it and be more than happy to help you out.
That’s another $600 – $1200 a year for giving up one or two days of your time a month.
Tell your neighbors you’re doing it so you can afford the adventure of a life time and I bet you can double that in tips. This ones not for everyone so I won’t include it in the total (but if I did we’d be up to almost $8000 after one year).
Look for Discounts:
Everyone discounts stuff at sometime or another. Follow the blog or Facebook page of your favorite tour operator or adventure company and watch for early discount specials or contest give-a-ways.
Your dream tour is now less than two years away. Make sure you’re ready. Exercise and practice. Start to shop for bargains on the equipment you’ll need. Research the details. Multi month adventures can take a year or more to plan and prepare for anyway so start now and by the time you are ready, the money will be there.
Of course I hope your dream adventure will be on one of our tours. But even if not, I encourage you to get out of the office and have an adventure. A multi month trip can be a life changing experience but even if you only get away for a week of a weekend you’ll be happier for it.
Good luck and Best wishes.