“How do you have the money to travel so much?” is a question I’m frequently asked and one which always amazes and annoys me for a couple of reasons. First-I’m not rich. I have a mortgage payment, annoying HOA fees, and graduate school loans that I pay each and every month along with standard monthly bills, so after you add up all of those payments, my earnings are average I feel. Second-the people who ask this are richer than me. No, I don’t compare salaries but they’re almost always older than me (i.e. they’ve been working longer), have houses that are double the size of mine, and in some instances, drive luxury cars. My house is nice but not mansion size and I drive a Japanese hatchback (which I love though) so you can see where priorities are for some.
I say this a lot but the money to travel comes from my desire to spend it on that just as there are some people who gladly spend their money each week on a night (sometimes more) at the bar, or on gym membership, or on home projects, or on name brand clothing. There isn’t some deep guarded mystery as to where I get the money to travel-while I would love to buy more clothing than I do, I don’t. I almost always buy clothing on sale or clearance; call me cheap but $100 for a flimsy, almost sheer top doesn’t quite seem worth it. I could also care less about designer labels. The same goes for shoes; I’m definitely no Carrie Bradshaw and have a couple of pairs that I’ve owned for more than five years (and no, it’s not because they’re prized Jimmy Choos). I’ve lived in my house for almost a year now and in that time our largest expenses have been hiring painters (we literally had the whole house repainted at different intervals throughout the year), custom fitted blinds, and outdoor patio furniture. There’s other improvements I would like to accomplish for the house, but I’m not rushing to do it all at once since I still want to be able to do other things.
What I’ve noticed with people who make these remarks is that they act along the belief that you need to be all in to one thing, whether it’s the luxury car, the mansion, or the name brand labels on clothing. Me? I like a little of everything-a car I’m happy with, clothing I’m content with, a house I enjoy being in, and the opportunity to travel places.
My biggest “luxury” (and even then it’s a stretch to call it that) is dining out once a week at a restaurant (and no, I’m not referring to fast food places or even chains like the Olive Garden). I know there are people who say they rarely go out to eat as it’s too expensive and they want to save money. Well, that’s one area I’m not doing without. I don’t dine at five star restaurants every week where the bill comes out to well over $100 for two people, but I go to the places I’m interested in and leave it at that. I don’t overthink the situation.
At the end of the month after you’ve paid the bills and put away some in savings (yes, I’m a huge advocate of savings for emergencies), and there’s some left over, you essentially have money for travel. How you choose to spend it is your prerogative. But don’t think you can’t travel after buying the $200 handbag or racked up a $100 bar bill one night. Even if your dream destination doesn’t seem feasible this year or next, start saving because one day it will be and you’ll be glad you did save.