Friday Fund-day #1: Necessary Changes

Friday Fund-day

As it stands I only have $115 dollars in my savings account scrounged together from birthday and Christmas money. As I said in this post I have never attempted to save a significant amount of money before, and I know it’s going to take a lot of discipline to save the $1,600 necessary to go to Thailand in January.

It’s going to take a lot of discipline, but it’s also going to take some strategies to cut down on spending and maybe even selling some things I don’t need. I also plan on paying off my credit card debt, so I can apply for a travel card. For the next 2 weeks I am planning on using these strategies to cut down on spending.

  1.  Don’t buy any drinks other than water. I have a bit of a problem with spending my money on drinks. I buy drinks at Starbucks, Dutch Brothers, Jamba Juice, and every time I eat out I buy something to drink. I realized that these dollars spent add up after a while. I have also had some issues with dehydration lately. Drinking more water will be a great way to save money and be healthy.
  2. Pack lunch every day. I absolutely hate the lunches my school offers, and I usually end up getting lunch out of the vending machines which isn’t very satisfying, healthy, or cost-effective. Packing lunch is a good way to make cheap, healthy lunches.
  3. Reduce eating out to once every two weeks. I have a tendency to eat out way too often. In my defense my boyfriend and I work hard and by the time we get home we don’t really feel like cooking or cleaning up afterward, but I realized that it was getting out of control when I found out that I spent $80 one week on eating out.
  4. Shop around for the best prices on textbooks. Last Spring I rented my textbooks from the college bookstore which was a huge mistake. The bookstore marks their textbooks up a ton. It honestly should be criminal how much they charge. As any college student can tell you, buying textbooks is very expensive, and when you don’t know where to go for the best prices it can cost even more. This semester I’m going to shop around online for the best prices.
  5. Sell my old textbooks. Usually I rent my textbooks but I have a few I bought that I can get about $70 for total. I plan on putting all that money directly into savings.
  6. Sell my violin. A few years ago I bought a violin with the determination to learn how to play, and I never played it once. Now it just sits in my closet as I reminder of a goal never accomplished. Rather than just let it sit I’m going to sell it on craigslist to someone who will actually use it.
  7. Pay off my credit card debt. Last year I put a lot of my college expenses on my credit card, so when I receive financial aid I’m going to use that to pay off my debt. I’m only about $280 in debt, but that’s most of my $300 credit limit. Needless to say that utilization rate doesn’t reflect very well on my credit score.

I know these minor changes are just the tip of the iceberg, but in the long run minor changes can make a big impact. My goal is to make practical changes that won’t be too strenuous. On Friday Fund-day I want to be honest with my followers on where I’m at financially for their sake and my own. This is a no sugar-coating or secret-keeping zone. I wish you all luck on your saving and traveling!

– SavingToTravel

  • This image was found on pixabay.com and is being used under a Creative Commons license.

Saving, Traveling and Uncharted Territory

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Last week I made the decision to visit Thailand in January. As much as many bloggers advertise that it’s possible to “travel for free” the reality of traveling is that somewhere along the line it costs money. Some travelers do get by traveling with meager amounts of money and working their way around the world while others find ways to travel hack by spending a ton of moneh to earn frequent flyer miles. I, on the other hand, am going to pay for my trip the old fashioned way, saving.

Before I set the goal of going to Thailand in mind, I crunched the numbers to ascertain if I could afford it, which I can. The cost of the flight is going to be around 800 dollars, and I’ve decided on a budget of 40 dollars a day for 2 weeks, and I’m alotting myself 240 dollars for everything else I’m going to need before I leave including my passport. I have 4 months between now and January to save 1600 dollars.

As someone who has never saved money before in their life this is uncharted territory. One of the reasons we travel is to experience things we never have before, and I suppose I’m getting the opportunity to do that before I even leave. As is typical when exploring uncharted territory my stomach has been tight with nervousness but more than anything I’m excited.

I want to show that even a student without a trust fund or a well-off family can see the world if they’re willing to put in the effort and make some necessary sacrifices. I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers because I know I don’t. This is a learning process, and I want to share my successes and failures with my followers.

Every other Friday from now on I’m going to be updating my followers on my progress. These posts are going to be titled Friday Fund-day. If you’re interested in learning the process needed to pay for travel then you should definitely keep up to date with these posts.

– Wandergirl

Wanderlust and Love

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Some days the wanderlust is so strong I’m tempted to say “I need to travel like I need to breathe” but I refrain because the fact is it’s not like that at all. I won’t cease to exist if I don’t travel, but my existence would seem meaningless. What I should say is “I need travel like I need love”

Love is not a necessity and neither is travel, but it is these things that make life matter and it is these things that make every breath valuable.

Breathe in. A warm hug. Breathe out. The mountain tops of the Himalayas. Breathe in. A chaste kiss. Breathe out. A sandy beach in Thailand. Breathe in. The people you love. Breathe out. The places you love to be.

– Wandergirl

The Excitement of Booking a Flight

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I’m about to book my flight from Bangkok to Krabi, and even though I have a long way before I can afford my entire trip to Thailand I’m itching with anticipation to take this first step. My fingers are shaking in what my boyfriend is misinterpreting as fear but what I know is my fingers aching to click that button “book now”

I’ve never been so excited in my life. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning except so much better because I’m doing this for myself.

Please, tell me about a time when you’ve felt so excited you couldn’t control it.

-Wandergirl

My Before

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Foot prints are washed away by the tide in the same way our lives will eventually be washed away by the sands of time, but who’s to say just because the footprints will be washed away that it wasn’t worth the trip to the beach.

I’m going to title this blog post “My Before” because the adventure of life I’m on now is vastly different from the chore of living I did up until a year ago. My life before I made the decision to make it an adventure was miserable. I want to tell the story of my life before, so I can use the rest of this blog to tell the story of my happily ever after.

I was depressed for as long as I can remember. I know that may seem odd and when I tell people this they often ask, “Well, what about when you were a young kid?”, and I have to reply with, “Yes, even then”. I was always polite and quiet. I smiled and laughed when I was supposed to, but I never really felt happy. After years of this I started to feel like all of my smiles were fake.

I was thirteen years old when I first attempted suicide, and I was fourteen when I started cutting. My junior year of high school was very stressful. I was taking calculus, college biology, and college english, and I was in jazz choir, madrigal choir, science bowl, and secretary of the honors club. In other words I didn’t seem like the type to cut or attempt suicide, but I did have a lot to stress about. It was a lot to handle, and because of my perfectionist mentality I beat myself up when I, understandably, couldn’t keep up with all of it.

I was cracking under all the pressure I had put myself under, and I attempted suicide again when I was fifteen. After that it was all a blur. I was taken out of public school and entered a home school where I only met up with a teacher once a week. I didn’t hang out with friends or go out to talk to people. I only ever left the house to go to therapy or school, and I felt like I was my family’s dark secret. To this day there are old friends of mine and even members of my own family who have no idea what happened to me. I simply disappeared. I felt like it was all a punishment rather than people trying to help me.  I was over medicated and barely able to think, but I was still vaguely aware that I was depressed. It went on like that for three years.

When I was eighteen, I started to wake up out of the fog. At that point I hadn’t attempted suicide or cut in years, but I was still depressed. The side effects of my medication were seriously affecting my health. I gained over fifty pounds on the medication which was bad enough, but the very last straw was when one of the medications reacted so poorly with my body that I started to lose my eyesight. After that my family and I decided that it would be best if I went off of my medication. We knew the risks of detoxing off of them all at once, but the way we saw it the risk of me losing my sight was far greater. Detoxing off of them was one of the most difficult things I have done to date, but I got through it. For a few days I was sick, miserable, and couldn’t get out of bed, but after that I started to feel better.

I had worked with therapists who had been teaching me how to cope with my depression for over three years, and I finally started to utilize those coping skills. Those skills helped me recover fairly quickly after going off of medication. I started going outdoors again and talking to people. To someone who has never isolated themselves because of depression that may not sound like a big deal, but to me it meant everything. For 3 years I had hid myself from the rest of the world in shame and fear, but I was finally comfortable enough to do simple tasks like go to the grocery store.

A few months later I moved out of my mother’s house and into a house with some roommates. Moving out had its own challenges which were difficult to cope with. Yet, I didn’t have the urge to give up like I used to. I started making friends with some of my roommates, and they urged me to join a dating website they were already a part of. A few weeks later I met the love of my life, Logan, who has taken me on the most thrilling adventures I could ever imagine.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I decided to embrace life: maybe it was when I decided to quit cutting, maybe it was after I detoxed from the medication, maybe it was after I moved out, maybe it was after I met Logan. However, when I made the decision doesn’t matter; what does matter is, no matter how long it took me, I did make the decision that even if life is difficult if I look at it like a journey, an adventure it can be enjoyable. Without that mentality I could have been dead by now or worse wishing I was dead.

I don’t mean to say that the answers to all of my problems were to simply get over them or that my decision to actually live life cured my depression. I don’t even mean to say that deciding to live means I don’t have some days where I want to die. What I am saying is that it sure as hell made those days easier to get through, and it made me realize that those days are worth living through.

– Wandergirl