A few weeks ago, I wrote about the way I plan to save the money I need to fund my SoleJourn. If you haven’t seen it, you can get to it here: Savings Plan. I figured that I would follow this plan for the next 2 months or so, and then reassess my progress at the beginning of 2013.
However, last Monday, Hurricane Sandy knocked out our power lines, along with our cable, internet, and telephones lines here at my house.
Downed trees and fallen wires blocked roads all throughout our area and flooded NYC subways along with closed bridges, cancelled trains and buses meant commuting to work was not happening for the entire week.
Needing a distraction I got to thinking again. November was about to begin, reducing my desired departure date countdown clock to 14 months. 1 year and 2 months. Upon realizing this, two things occurred to me:
- That is an impossibly long time to wait to do the thing I want to do more than any other!
- That is a ridiculously short period of time in which to save up $25,000!
Since I have less control over the former for the time being, I decided to assess my recent spending and my savings progress up until now, and make adjustments earlier rather than later. This is what I found:
- Yes, I have set spending limits for myself, but I really haven’t been taking them seriously enough. While mint.com is a great way to keep track of how you are spending your money, and the visual representation is helpful when you are using it correctly, it is way too easy to simply increase your limits as you surpass them, so it doesn’t look like you are overspending. I have done this on more than one occasion, basically rendering the whole thing pointless.
- I overspent in Hawaii. I had an idea of how much I wanted to spend, but honestly, I wasn’t keeping track of the money while I was there. I didn’t go crazy, but I also didn’t buy food or other items with a budget in mind. This was due in large part to the super short nature of the trip, but it is not a good habit to form.
- I am still spending money on things I do not need. Once I leave for my trip, everything that cannot fit on my back, will essentially, at least for a time, be useless to me. Since I already have enough clothes and shoes for all 4 seasons, purchasing more is just wasting money.
- I set up my accounts to automatically move money to savings each month, but that money alone won’t be enough to meet my goal. I knew this, and vaguely told myself that to make up the difference I would intermittently move extra money around when it was available. Upon second thought, that plan isn’t going to cut it.
I have realized that for me to succeed, I need a more numerically specific plan. I need to know exactly how much money I should put away for each of the next 14 months in order to meet my goal and how I plan to do so.
So, I worked it all out: As of right now, I have saved up a total of $9,000 for my trip. This means I have 14 months (or more specifically 426 days, as of November 1) to save the remaining $16,000. I need to save $1,164.32 each month (a little less in months with only 30 days), which is the equivalent of $37.56 every single day. That is a lot of money, but it is the magic number. Using this figure, I then calculated how much money would be left over for expenses and miscellaneous spending per day, per week and per month, and reset my food, transportation, etc. budgets based on this number. Working backwards in this way will, I think, really help me focus and prioritize.
What I came up with does unfortunately render my social life budget close to non-existent, but for the cold, dark, miserable months we are entering at least, I’ll survive: Small price to pay to live a big dream, right? If I do well enough this winter, who knows, maybe there will be some extra money for me to have fun with in the summer!
Lastly, I thought about the fact that writing things down so I can visualize them sometimes helps me to meet goals. So, I did a little art project for my wall. I know its silly, but I think it will help me break the larger problem into smaller pieces and to take it day by day. Not to mention, it will constantly remind me of why I am doing all of this and of what I am giving up when I drop $50 on something stupid.
Now that I have further refined my plan, I will test it out for the next two months and update my progress in January. Though it may seem extremely specific to some, I now feel more confident that if I truly commit to this, I know exactly what I have to do to make this happen.