As a preface to today’s photo post, head over to Think Save Retire, where Steve was kind enough to host a guest post I wrote about Five reasons we chose a minivan to travel the country. If the rationale laid out there doesn’t inspire you, perhaps these photos from Wyoming and Montana will.
After starting our second North American road trip in Montana and the Canadian Rockies, it was going to be difficult to match the awe-inspiring natural beauty in any future destination. Yellowstone, though, was up to the task.
Greetings, readers! Just over a year after launching this blog, I’ve finally roped Daniel into writing a post! I hope you’ll enjoy some more background on his financial story and how he, too, was able to build enough financial security to be comfortable dropping everything to travel the world. – Matt
Back in the early 2000s, at the well-informed and responsible age of seventeen, I took a few tours of college campuses, was impressed by the lovely buildings and manicured lawns, and made the decision to go $23,000 into debt.
Four years later, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the highly practical field of European history. As a wide-eyed college student with visions of making the world a more just and equitable place, I went into social service, working primarily with marginalized communities. The work was meaningful and challenging, but as you’d probably expect, it wasn’t exactly the most lucrative.
Over the last six years of full-time work, I earned an average of just $25,000 annually.
For many people, that combination of low salary and high student debt would have been a sentence to decades of financial challenges. But with the right habits, I enjoyed some of the best years of my life, saved a bunch of money, and paid off the entirety of my student loan debt. Here’s how I did it.
I’ve spent the majority of the past decade working full-time, growing my income, and saving aggressively toward financial independence. I made it! I’m financially independent. And now I qualify for government assistance. Huh?
We got back to the States in early September and enjoyed a week’s respite before hitting the road again. We took the opportunity to spend the week apart, staying with our respective families in Washington and Oregon.
Hiking a segment of the PCT in Central Oregon before our return to van life
We in the personal finance community – especially those of us focused on frugal living – sure love to harp on the same few targets when it comes to frivolous spending.
Coffee seems to have gotten the worst of it. Mentions of the “latte factor” even appear regularly in major media these days. Fair enough: good coffee is easily made at home for pennies in lieu of dropping five dollars a day at Starbucks. (I suppose you could stop drinking it entirely, but then what would be the point of living?)
Cable TV isn’t far behind. With the proliferation of Netflix, Hulu, and borrowed Xfinity passwords, is there even anyone left who pays a hundred bucks a month for television service?
A couple others get regular mentions. Leased vehicles (gas-guzzlers, especially) are a big waste of money, of course. Gigantic houses take their share of flak too – the cost of mortgage interest, property taxes, and utilities can add up to a mighty sum.
And then there’s dining out. “You’re just throwing money away!” the common refrain goes. “Cooking at home is a fraction of the cost. You should never spend more than a couple hundred dollars a month on food.”
Whoa. Hold up. Now it’s gotten personal.