While we cycle the world, we will have no income. That means we have to live from our savings. So how did we save enough money? We didn’t have trees growing free cash in our backyard, or dollar bills raining from the sky into our wallet. This is how we saved enough money to cycle the world.
Thankfully, we both had the opportunity to get a college degree. Sabina worked full time for five years, and Robin for two. This means that we had an average income. We didn’t want to seek other employment that would be better paid, since we both liked where we were. Our normal wages had to do.
(All pictures in this post were made on our trip to Zeeland)
How to get control over your finances
Do you actually know how much money you spend? You probably know how much your boss pays you. But do you also know where it all goes?
Sabina used to transfer money to her savings account directly when she got paid. At the end of the month, small chips of the big chunk went back to the debit card to pay the bills. She had no idea how much money was really available, since it all went back and forth.
Robin paid for a lot of stuff with his credit card, so he basically paid for it a month later. But guess what, one month later he already forgot he spent it. So sometimes the bill would add up. Add unexpected expenses, like dentist bills and the financial control is far gone.
Make a budget spreadsheet
It was time to get back in control. And there is only one very tedious way to do so. We made a budget spreadsheet, and wrote down every euro that came in and out.
This is when we started to notice how much unnecessary stuff we bought. Snacks at the train station, whilst commuting to work. Very expensive nights out with friends (you’ll have just as much fun, maybe even more, on three beers instead of nine). And all sorts of subscriptions, like Netflix, the gym and magazines.
We weighed every single euro that we spent, since we knew we had to put it in the spreadsheet and justify it. This might seem childish, but how badly do you want to cycle the world? No one ever said it was easy or fun.
How to save money
Here’s a list of things we saved a lot of money on.
Can you find a cheaper option? And think about it, the smaller the space, the less stuff (money) you need to fill it.
We rented a house from a Dutch organization called Villex. They basically let people live in empty houses, waiting to be demolished. We had a three month notice, but luckily the houses weren’t torn down before our departure date. This meant we could rent a three bedroom-house for €400 a month. Well worth the risk.
A friend of Sabina who’s also saving for a world trip, found a different approach for budget friendly living. She resides in a tiny house in her friends yard. Here’s to say there are plenty of ways to save money on housing. You just have to get creative.
Do you really need that new iPhone with the expensive subscription? Sabina bought a secondhand iPhone when her old one broke down. Our subscription was about €16 a month. There are plenty of cheap options out there.
Netflix, Spotify, library, etc.
Do you really need it, or can you maybe join a family account? We spent € 10 a month. We could’ve saved more here, but you do need some entertainment once in a while.
Health care and insurance
Do not save on this, you might need it. And then it will cost you a lot.
Can you get financial compensation for the distance you cover for work? And when you need to park your car, are there cheaper or maybe free options instead, just a stroll longer? Don’t forget to include gas and insurance in your budget. Selling it also helps. 😉
Make a weekmenu, buy groceries at a budget supermarket and most importantly, stick to the menu! This was a hard one, since we’re two lazy mf’ers who like take-away and potato chips.
We used discount codes for meal boxes, and bought fruits and veggies that weren't the prettiest but therefor cheaper. There are plenty organizations that sell food for a cheaper price, which would otherwise be discarded.
You can make money on this. Instead of buying clothes, you can sell the ones you have. As Marie Kondo would say, ‘does it spark joy’? If it doesn’t, sell it. Sabina had a challenge to not buy new clothes for a year. It was actually very easy to do. Eventually Robin’s wardrobe made a great substitute for fashion boutiques.
Unnecessary if you plan to cycle the world for a year. You have a bicycle, go and cycle. And do Yoga With Adriene instead of an expensive yoga class. YouTube can help you train at home in all sorts of ways.
We treated ourselves to one cultural getaway a month. A concert or a visit to a museum. Life has to stay fun, even when you’re saving up. Instead of dinner in restaurants with friends, we invited them home or went for a walk in the woods.
Become a minimalist
But the one thing that really helped us, was getting in touch with our minimalist mentality. And it didn’t just effect our bank account. Less stuff makes your mind less cluttered too.
Save the head space you use, when you try to decide which shoes you’ll put on if you have more than 25 to choose from. Realizing and experiencing the benefits of this mindset, made saving much easier.
Every expense we didn’t make felt like a victory, instead of a loss. It wasn’t something we didn’t get, it is an extra meal on our journey, or a warm shower in a hotel room after a week of camping.
Find your priorities
Once you know what you really want, saving will become much easier. Ours was saving enough money to cycle the world for at least a year. Too many people spend too much on stuff they don’t want, to impress people they don’t really like. Find stuff you like and spend your money on that.
If it truly makes you happy (like our bicycles!), and it’s going to keep making you happy, splurge. But ask yourself that question every single time. Ander after that, only then swipe your card.
Disclaimer: We know that we are very privileged and have walked a road much more paved than most people on this planet. Knowing this we will try our hardest to give back to the local communities. We will buy groceries at local shops, share our food, and stay in guest houses rather than hotel chains. Tips on conscious travel are more than welcome in the comments bellow or send us a dm on Instagram!