Kile and I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. Are we really, I mean truly, living the lives we want to be living? When we both asked ourselves this question we found that we could easily say “sure, yeah, we’re happy”. I mean, what’s not to love? We have each other. We have a cute apartment in a beautiful city. We have jobs that pay decently. We have families that love and support us. We have an adorable black cat. What could possibly be missing? When we both honestly asked ourselves this question we both knew that there was something missing. And this something happens to be extremely important to the both of us. MEANING.
We live life like most people in this country who are in their early 30’s. We graduated high school, went to college, and then entered the day-to-day grind that we call daily life. We wake up Monday mornings already wishing for Friday and spend our weekends cramming as much “fun” and “life” in as humanly possible only to go to bed on Sunday night wishing we didn’t have to work the next morning. We get our paychecks every 2 weeks and spend the majority of this money on bills. Rent. Student loans. Car payment. Electricity. Or whatever else may come up that month. And this is the cycle…constantly. This can’t be it, right? This can’t be what our short lives on this planet were meant to be doing, right? Well we’ve decided to say “hell no!” to the idea of being a cog in the machine and we’re making changes.
The first step we had to complete was to answer the question “what makes us happiest?” Answering this question was a complete no-brainer for us. Traveling. We love nothing more than traveling around the world and experiencing different local cultures. (Here’s a plug to check out our Where We’ve Been section!) Sure, we love traveling to see the tourist sites but what we really love is getting in the nitty-gritty of a culture and seeing how people are LIVING. This. This right here is what we want to do. Although money is a necessity, we don’t have a desire to be rich. And yes, we like having “things” but when it comes down to it…we don’t need much. I’d also like to mention that Kile and I are different than many in the fact that we don’t have a desire (at this moment anyway) to own a home or get even more settled in a life that would require us to maintain these unfulfilling jobs or continue to “pay the man”. So, how can we get to a point in our lives where we can quit our 9-5 jobs, hop on a plane, and explore for months or years at a time? We needed a game plan.
Debt reduction and a savings plan.
We figure that it’s easier to save more money than it is to make it, so what can we do to reduce our overall monthly spending? We’re downsizing. Right now we have an adorable 2 bedroom apartment in South Portland. When we first moved in, we loved having the extra bedroom “just in case” guests would come stay with us or to have the extra storage. But after breaking down our ultimate goals, we realized that this extra space was just a waste and in no way was contributing to our long-term goal of traveling the world. Sure the extra space is nice but it’s totally unnecessary for us. So we’ve decided to look for a new, smaller, cheaper apartment. Our goal is to find either a studio or 1-bedroom apartment for $750 or less; we currently pay $925 a month so this would be an automatic $175 a month in savings. That’s $2100 a year right there!! Yesterday, Kile and I spent the morning going through closets and bins of crap, throwing out anything that wouldn’t contribute to our master plan. It was actually quite liberating! By the end of this month, I hope to have my belongings down to a bin or two. These will be important belongings only: pictures, extremely sentimental items, important documents, etc. Anything else? It’s gotta go!
Cancelling monthly bills/subscriptions that are unnecessary. This is the next step in creating a bigger savings plan. Let’s face it, I’m a girly girl who loves getting my monthly Birchbox in the mail and I also love to primp at the salon every few months. But, our goal of traveling is WAY more important to me so it’s time to sever ties. I also love watching my guilty pleasure shows during the week but would I die if I didn’t watch them? No. So cable is going out the window too. The bottom line is…if it’s not completely necessary then it’s in the way. Get rid of it!
Sallie Mae. Oh the evil that is the student loan business. I, like many college grads, are burdened with student loan debt. I’m right around the average with about $26,000 in debt. I pay Sallie Mae (aka Lucifer) approximately $400 a month. That’s completely asinine and it’s got to stop. I’ve made it top priority to put extra money saved from the things mentioned above towards paying off the higher-interest loans one at a time. Come December, I’m hoping to have knocked out at least 2 of the 9 loans I have with them; hopefully bringing my payments down to $200 a month. That’s half of my monthly Sallie Mae bill gone!
This is where we’re starting. Downsizing and reducing spending. Any and all extra money we will have from these changes will go to one of two things: paying off debt or going into the savings account.
I’d like to clarify that Kile and I are not trying to live a life of laziness and selfish-pleasures. We are more than willing (and want!) to work while traveling. Our goal is just to make sure that whatever we’re doing for work…means something and contributes to bettering this planet and the people who live here. I can see our dream life on the horizon and it’s so glorious and beautiful that we’ve never been more motivated!
I hope to inspire others and connect with like-minded people throughout this process. Any and all thoughts/comments/criticisms are welcomed and encouraged. Thank you for embarking on this journey with us!