It’s a topic none of us want to talk about, despite it being the great, big, noisy, neon elephant in the room. If there was a magic wand that would take away any responsibility of this topic, many of us would be lined up outside of Ollivanders to buy one immediately – but instead we look for ways to work our own kind of magic on this area of our lives.
What is it? MONEY. BUDGETING. SAVING. FINANCIAL FREEDOM.
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this, but I will share what has and hasn’t worked for us over the last 2 years, particularly related to travelling but some things can be helpful in other areas. Understand I am not an accountant or financial planner, so anything I share or suggest is at your own risk and responsibility.
I was a single mother with my first child and managed okay financially but really had no clear financial goals or knowledge, particularly as I moved out of home at 16yo and winged it for the most part. I had no financial sense at all. Years later when I met my husband, combined we had at least a portion of disposable income, that was truly wasted because we didn’t have a clear goal for what we could achieve with it. When my husband reached a time, he could access his superannuation fund (pension fund in other countries – and he was able to access his early), he was struggling with his health. For this reason, we chose travel and quality time together over a mortgage, and although we don’t regret it for a second, we know now that we could have utilised the funds for travel more efficiently. For example, our first trip to Europe for 7 weeks cost almost $50K for the four of us – ouch I know – but we didn’t want to spend any time worrying on that trip because of my husband’s health. Could I have done it cheaper? Yes. Did I have the knowledge to? No. It was our first overseas trip, and we learned A LOT.
Fast forward to now, and we are in the beginning stages of moving long term to England, so I can work as a nurse and see my nieces and nephews grow up. This means we need to get serious about our finances as we aim to save approximately $20K+ before we leave in December 2018. This is what we have done.
THE ENVELOPE BUDGET
The envelope budget is the brain child of Jordan Page – www.funcheaporfree.com – and has been the best thing I have ever done for our financial wellbeing so far. I have done an envelope budget before, however it was the one that requires you to take out all the cash you need and divide into different envelopes. Today this is just not practical as our lives become more and more electronic, so there had to be another way. The idea is that you have a family allocation for bills and non-negotiable expenses, you then have an envelope to keep tally each month (on a weekly schedule) how much you have left to spend out of your “food” and “other” budget – keeping these receipts in the envelope you write on. I encourage you to check it out, Jordan and her husband have so many great ideas.
Each week now on a Sunday we sit down and have a family meeting straight after our Sunday morning breakfast, and work out our meal plan for the following week. We work out exactly what we are going to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and ONLY buy what we need. It is far too easy to buy too much and waste it because it goes off. As per Jordan Pages advice, we also only shop ONCE per week, unless we need fresh bread. The benefit of this is that you don’t overspend – how many times have you ducked into the grocery store for one item and ended up with a full basket? Yes, I’m talking to you – and me! I have saved loads just from this tip alone, and it saves asking each other what they would like for dinner.
JOINT BANK ACCOUNTS – WITH SUB ACCOUNTS
Currently we have a plethora of bank accounts with a few different institutions, but only one joint account in a bank we don’t really like, so that had to be sorted once and for all. Today we went to Suncorp and spent 2 hours with Brad, my new favourite money man, who set us up and helped us make sense of budgeting and saving on fees. We set up one joint account and a few sub accounts; savings, direct debit bills, intermittent bills, and a slush fund. Honestly, we will probably set up a second savings account, so we have a general savings and emergency account, but for now this is enough. Suncorp set it up so that your savings is accessible by your direct debit account as a back-up, so you can avoid any overdraw fees should anything out of the ordinary occur. Over the coming weeks we will close our other accounts and have our income go into our new joint account – life will become so much more simple and civilised.
We are no different to anyone else really in that we also have debt, but we have really worked to get rid of it over the last few years. By May 2018 we expect that we will be completely debt free (including student loans), meaning we can save a significant sum of money to act as a buffer for overseas. Currently at the end of each week, we put all leftover money into savings, so it isn’t wasted on things we just don’t need.
MY TOP TIPS TO SAVE
I will continue to share any updates we have and how we are going with our budget plan. Check out our facebook page to keep up to date with any live feeds/you tube videos we make, and feel free to share your own budgeting tips for a life of travel.
For the love of travel, I am willing to step away from the safety of what I know.
For the love of travel, I am willing to take a chance at something great.
For the love of travel, I am willing to leave my life behind.
For the love of travel, I am willing to live.
Travel is not something I have always been passionate about, it’s not even something I’ve ever even thought about up until a short few years ago. I’m not certain why but I never really considered that travel was part of who I was or even wanted to be, it was only something that other people did, like retirees or the reasonably wealthy. That’s not to say that I never travelled when I was a child, it’s just that travel for me was going to the Gold Coast for the day or the time we moved away from our little beachside home town of Woolgoolga to suburban Brisbane. When I became a mother, and found myself raising her on my own, my priorities shifted away from me and became focused on how to raise a well-adjusted and healthy daughter. For me that looked like working to support her and studying so I could show her that no matter the circumstances you can always chase your dreams. I was never unhappy in my life as a single mum, but I guess I also got a little stuck in the safety of what I knew and building a predictable life for us was paramount.
“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly”
– Eat, Pray, Love.
Fast forward more than a few years to 2015 our family looked quite different, with me marrying the man of my dreams, and having a daughter together our little unit of 4 took on the dream of a 7-week overseas adventure. Of course, it was illness that spurred it on, with my husband having some worrying symptoms and results we decided to do a 7-week European adventure for all of us, taking us to England, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece. That’s when we truly realized how enormous and diverse the world really was, and it’s what fed our desire to travel more and has led to our decision to move abroad with our children to experience life on the other side of the world.
“If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you”
– Eat, Pray, Love.
Over the past 2 years we have experienced so much more than we ever would have had we stayed living our safe life, and we are excited for our new adventure into the unknown. It does scare us just a little – moving to a place we don’t know well and leaving everything and everyone we know and love behind for something that is uncertain is a prospect that makes my palms sweat and my pulse race, but we have done it before. I am reminded of 2011 when we quit our jobs to move from Brisbane to Queenslands Sunshine Coast, that decision was tough but we did it and we don’t regret it for a second. We must look at this new adventure in the same light.
“I wanna go someplace where I can marvel at something”
– Eat, Pray, Love.
I want to live a life that is full, and diverse, and challenging. I want to live a life that pushes the boundaries of comfort and knowing so I can experience the things that are hidden behind fear and uncertainty. Because that is where I know it resides. The total amazement, joy, and astonishment we have all experienced in our last 3 overseas trips has taught us so much – who wouldn’t want that for their family.
So here I am, about to begin the process of becoming a registered nurse in England (one that takes up to a year), and open to sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly with you all along the way. Come along with me as I share every step I take, and all the things I learn throughout the process. I will be providing the mentorship and coaching services throughout this voyage so check them out. If you enjoy videos, I will be sharing those on Facebook (and later, on YouTube), along with live feeds so please connect with Intrepid Nurse over there and on Instagram. If you have tips that helped you, share away also. Keep an eye on “Nursing Notes” for resources I am creating to share free, and sign up to get updates on how we are going. I look forward to getting to know you all.