It is interesting how travel―or the prospect of forthcoming travel―can focus the mind, and change long-held habits seemingly overnight. I write about this today, because just last week I bought an early bird return ticket from Adelaide, Australia to Athens, Greece. Although the trip won’t take place until late April, 2014, I am already thinking about the journey, and planning my extended itinerary.
I am also trying to work out where I can cutback and rein in my spending. Obviously, the less I spend over the next seven months, the more I will have to live on when I am travelling. On my iPad 2 I have a copy of Numbers, Apple’s excellent spreadsheet application. For the past year or so I have been maintaining a daily spreadsheet of my expenses under various categories, including groceries, transport, phone and Internet fees and other expenses.
The great thing about maintaining this daily record of expenses is that I can see at a glance where my money is going, and more importantly where I can make savings.
One of the line items in the spreadsheet documents spending which I, for better or worse, call ‘Eats’. This is where I add up expenses such as coffee, sandwiches, bagels, cakes and other light snacks. To my surprise, I recently noticed that for several months I have been spending an average of $250 each month on ‘Eats’. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, if I maintain that spending level, the figure adds up to $3000 a year. Three thousand dollars! I could buy an economy class return ticket to pretty much any city on the planet for that price.
Now you might argue that while that may be true, surely I am not advocating never again buying a cappuccino and cinnamon donut. You would of course, be right. But even if I can reduce that discretionary spending by half, to $1500, I could still purchase a ticket to most places across the world, and in deed, the early bird ticket I bought last week cost me $1620.
While I don’t want to turn into a modern day Scrooge, my goal over the next six to seven months is to focus on the journey ahead, and to reduce my discretionary spending to a level that allows me to enjoy life without feeling like I can’t leave the house for fear of spending a few dollars on myself before departing Australia’s shores.