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First year of savings
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-01-12 18:22:37 | Lachine, Quebec, Canada
Keywords: budget, finances, money, preparation
This month marks the first year of planning for my new life and the cleaning up of my financial mess in order to have the life I want. Looking at my current finances, I can hardly believe the changes that happened in the last 12 months. In the last few weeks, I mostly rested and worked on a few aspects of my new life.

Finances

I never looked at the numbers before last year.  I was living from paycheck to paycheck, putting my vacations on my credit cards and paying them afterwards, etc.

A few years ago, because of a delay on a paycheck, I even had to borrow money from a friend to pay the rent, because my credit cards were loaded.  I knew about how much I had on my credit cards and I didn't really care about that.  I knew with a good steady income my credit card debts weren't that big... even I were never able to pay them back.  As soon as I had reached a balance under a $1000, I began a new spending spree.

In the last few years, that carelessness was also due to the fact I knew I could erase most of my debts by selling some stocks I had... so I had the feeling I was in a neutral zone, no real debt, no real savings.  Which was okay by me then... even if I had all the opportunities to be saving money (a good salary, single, apartment, no car, etc).

On January 3, last year, I sat down and did the first financial analysis of my assets and debts of my life.  Putting down the numbers from all my cash flow (excluding stocks I then owned).  I listed all my bank accounts, credit cards, loans, etc... and I tallied all the numbers after I paid what I could on the various bills and credit card balances.

I was nearly $10 000 down on credit cards.  Honestly though, I have to mention I decided not to take into account my stocks as I viewed them as the start of my savings for my new life.  Later on, when I was forced to sell them, they did contribute a lot in that capacity (since I had already cleared my debts).  I didn't count (and still don't) some other savings in the form of retirement money.  I have about $5 000 I keep in there as an emergency fund in case I'd have to return home for whatsoever reason... that money would help me live at least 6 months time to find a new job, etc.

So, I started last year with $10 K in debts.  I began to monitor my spending (which I never did before) and pay closer attention to what I was buying.  I also entered in the spirit of buying only stuff I could use on my trip... and get rid of everything else.  That thought alone helped me a lot in the last year... to resist the temptation to buy electronic gadgets, or at least delay the purchase until I had found a purpose for it while on the road.

Through careful spending and the sale of many of my items on eBay, I was able to clear out my debts in less than 4 months.  I can remember how thrilling it was to see my credit card balances to ZERO.  Something I had never achieved before.

Now, one year later, my savings towards my trip (excluding my $5 000 emergency reserve) is over $16 000.... a $26 000 improvement year-over-year.  And during that year, I lost job in the middle of the year.  For the second part of 2012, I received unemployment insurance payments, which are much less than what was my previous salary but more than enough for me to live on (with my new philosophy and care for expenses) and even increase my savings.  With that $16K, I have more than enough for my first year on the road... and I have some other major income coming soon (including a good tax return).

I've sold a lot on eBay from my collections, and I also got some money from selling my furniture and other house items through classifieds.  In the last few months, I've not listed new items on eBay and I still have lots to list. Listing stuff on eBay takes a lot of time and that's not on my priorities at the moment.

Preparation

I've spent a great deal of 2012 preparing for my new life.  I read a lot, in paper and online.  I spent lots of time researching stuff and programming Web sites.  Just to name a few of the aspects I've researched: I documented what I wanted to see, how to be safe on the road, researching best gear to carry around and worked on blogs and other Web sites to not only keep in touch with you but also help me learn a living while on the road.  I still have tons to do, but I'm not always in the mood to work on the projects in progress.  So, I (too) easily jump from one project to another.

I first assumed it was just because of the time of the year (I hate the Holidays)... but as I thought about the issue more deeply, I realized it could be associated with the marathon's wall... where the runners hit a virtual wall their body refusing to being subject to that pain any more, etc.  I do feel like that at the moment.   At least, starting new projects helps me alleviate that feeling.  I'm pretty sure it's just a bad period of time to go through.  I've been working full time on my preparation for more than 6 months now.  I believe it's kinda normal to be tired somewhat... of working on various aspects of a new life you want... but at the same time seems so far away.  I haven't been on a trip for more than a year now... I really miss that and I really can't wait to get on the road and be in that life.

It's possible I might not finish all the projects I started before I leave.  Although it's not my goal, I know it's a possibility.  I also know I will welcome resting periods in my new life... and that those will be good to let my brain work instead of my legs.  Since I'm not worried in terms of finances for now, that's also something that doesn't urge me to complete process, even if most of the projects I have are labour of love and passion, rather than simply cash cows.

For months, I delayed the route planning... knowing when I would begin that it would be hard to wait until I get there.  Now it's time to plan for my first 12-18 months on the road and lay down my route through the US, Mexico and Central America.  I need to do that in order to determine time frames, to check for weather patterns (like rain seasons), vaccines, visas, etc... and all this could have an impact of my departure date.  I will leave somewhere between mid-May to mid-June.  I'm now building the back-end system to let me determine my route and be able to have detailed info to present to the customs officers at the borders. 

I will also resume walking long distances (10 to 25 km) on a regular basis... which I haven't done much in the last few months.


Related posts:
Itinerary and finances
Spent more, produced less
Totally debt free!
Almost debt-free
Prepping goes along

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