Savings are important, retirement planning is usually prudent and living below your means is key to working toward financial freedom. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t travel or mini-retire or have some crazy awesome experiences just because you were never able to save or don’t have the means to pay full price. You just have to think creatively.
If you don’t have savings or enough income for whatever it is that you would like to do, think about what else you do have. Time on your hands? Stuff to get rid of? Skills to share?
Time – If you’re stuck in a 60-80 hour per week corporate job, this paragraph may not strongly resonate with you because time is your most scarce commodity. (Though if you are in that type of job, you probably have a nice size salary, so start saving!) For the rest of us who may have a bit of extra time on our hands but lack extra funds, begin to think about how you can use or give of your time in a way that you enjoy that will allow you to get an experience that you otherwise might not be able to have. I’ll give an example:
I’ve always wanted to visit the U.S. national parks, but coordinating a quick trip to the Grand Canyon from New York and pegging down all the details that go with it is expensive as anything. I enjoy working with teens so – instead of spending a lot of money and time in planning a solo trip – I applied along with Jay to lead a teen tour this summer. The pay will be meager, but the point is not the pay. The point is trading my time for an awesome experience. I will be receiving a weekly allowance and having all expenses paid (food, lodging, park fees, etc.) to go hiking and have fun all summer. If I love the places we visit, we can always try to find a way back. My schedule is wide open as I left my day job this past fall and work for myself on a flexible schedule (I released an educational film in Spring 2009), but this can be an option for you even if you have a more restrictive schedule. Many of these programs are 2-3 weeks long. You might not want to use your time off on one big vacation, but – depending on how badly you want the trip – it could be well worth it.
That should be enough to get you started. In the next installment, I will tell you how you can leverage your stuff and skills to get the experiences you want.
posted by amybetho