This is a guest post from my friend Deacon, enjoy! Deacon Hayes is a Personal Finance Expert who is best known for paying off $52,000 in consumer debt in 18 months. Through his company Well Kept Wallet, he has helped thousands of people develop a financial game plan so they can achieve their financial goals in life. He has been featured in the US News & World Report, MSN Money, Yahoo Finance and more.Let me know if you would like to guest post on RFI
A few years ago my wife and I decided that we wanted to travel to Singapore because she has a friend that lives there. We thought it would be great to visit her friend and her friend’s husband, while being able to see a part of the world that we’ve never seen before. We also wanted to visit Hong Kong on that trip as that is a place that I’ve never been and always wanted to go to. However, we didn’t want to go into debt to go to these places so we decided to develop a plan to get us there debt free.
The Countdown Fund
That plan consisted of us creating what I call a countdown fund. To establish a countdown fund, you take the amount of money you need to save for your trip, and divide it by the number of months until you want to go on your trip. You can then put the cash into a separate bank account or into a separate envelope if you’re using the cash envelope system to manage your money.
In our case we needed roughly $7,200 to cover the cost of the trip, and we wanted to take the trip in two years. So our goal was to put $300 a month into a savings account for two years so that we could have the $7,200 to go on our trip. Obviously, this took some planning and discipline but after two years of saving we were able to go on this trip without taking on any debt.
The other thing we did was that we paid cash for all of our food, tourist attractions, and all of the activities we took part in on the trip. Paying cash on an international trip can be expensive due to currency conversion fees and ATM fees, but I had a brokerage account through Schwab that reimbursed me any ATM fees, so we would take out $300 to $400 in cash every few days in the currency of the country we were in because the currency conversion rate was so good through Schwab. It’s always a good idea to be on the lookout for accounts like these that will help you travel internationally for less.
How We Came up With the Money to Go
To go on trips like this, it takes having extra money each month to save in order to make a trip like this a reality. We came up with the monthly cash savings to put toward the trip in two ways. First, we were really good about keeping our monthly expenses low. We cancelled our cable TV, limited our entertainment budget and kept eating out to a minimum. But it was the side hustles that we did which really put the wind in our sails.
I started working a second job delivering pizzas, I did some freelance writing and Kim went through our house, gathering up things we no longer used or wanted and selling them on EBay and Craigslist. All of the money we made through side hustles was then put into our countdown fund.
The other thing that we did that played a big part in us being able to take this trip was that we paid off all of our consumer debt. Before we started saving for the trip, we had $52,000 in consumer debt. We were newly married and the fact that our combined debt amount was so large was a surprise to us both.
We both agreed that we didn’t want to spend our married lives struggling with debt, so we made a plan to get out of debt quickly. Using the same tips we used to fund our vacation, we worked super hard and paid off all $52k in debt within 18 months. We made big sacrifices, like selling both of our newer cars and using the cash we had left over from the sale of the cars and paying off the car loans to purchase two quality used cars. These were tough decisions but we knew the end result would be worth the sacrifice. Paying off our consumer debt freed up more money to use toward our vacation fund. We’re still consumer debt free to this day and in just a few short years our mortgage will be paid off as well. Being totally debt free will allow us to have more money to save for future dream vacations like the one to Singapore.
Well Worth the Effort
While in Singapore, we decided to travel to nearby countries. The first country that we went to was Indonesia, which has amazing forest and wildlife areas. We were also able to go on a river excursion, where we saw monkeys hopping from tree to tree, and snakes hanging above us. Definitely different than what I experience on a day-to-day basis at home.
The trip was well worth all of the time and effort we put into it; worth all of the extra hours worked, the expenses we cut and the items we sold. If you want to travel more, then I hope this will encourage you to start putting together your plan today so that you can experience all that travelling the world has to offer sooner rather than later.