Saving: How we did it

A version of this article originally appeared on at the outset of their RTW trip.


One of the first things people ask us about the trip is how much we’ve saved. More important than the answer to that question is how we’ve saved.

Setting the Goal

84299560 06f628bc9a m Saving. Saving. Saving.

When I graduated from undergrad I had approximately $50k in student loans, when my wife graduated a year later she had even more. It was a tremendous amount of money and far more than we have saved for the trip even now. To deal with it all we had to make it manageable. About 40% of our loans were ‘public’ loans which we were able to consolidated at extremely low interest rates, these loans still remain and we merely pay the minimum amount required by us each month. The remaining ‘monster’ portion had a much larger interest rate so we focused our efforts on paying that off as quickly as possible. For years every spare cent we had went to SallieMae and CitiBank as we payed off principal as quickly as possible.

You are probably asking how we managed to send that kind of money to the lenders. The decision to travel was as much a goal as it was a decision. I could sit here and give a listing of websites, all supplying different ways to manage money, but that wouldn’t really be very interesting. The way I see it, spending for twenty-year-olds without children falls into two categories…rent and beer.

Live Within Your Means

Let’s address the first category- rent.   We lived in a very, very small apartment and lived frugally.  We made-do with our old furniture and household goods.  We didn’t buy new anything, we made things work and when we needed something new we looked for sales and bargains! Because we lived in a co-op, we were able to build equity, reap tax benefits, pay a government ‘subsidized’ rent, and just save a lot of money. If it wasn’t for our housing, our student loans may have been overwhelming. So thats the first category.

As for the second, we aren’t exactly teetotalers. We do drink and we do go out with friends, we are just sure to watch our spending when we do. Our hobbies, mountain biking, kayaking and orienteering, help with that in that if we spend the whole day outside running around, we usually don’t feel like staying out till 2am at a bar working up a 3-digit tab. Better yet, instead of going out to dinner and a bar, we invited people over.  Even purchasing all of the food and drinks came out cheaper than one night at a bar.  Go figure.

2402698820 6606b5ca8a m Saving. Saving. Saving.

Track It

Lastly, and the least fun tip, is to track spending. As a business consultant I’ve had a love affair with MS Excel since my first day at work. A month into my tenure I created a budget spreadsheet to use to track my spending and as time passed this spreadsheet became more and more robust. For years now, every cent we’ve spent has been tagged and tracked in our spreadsheets and that has made us far more disciplined than we ever could have been on our own.

Seeing that amount grow, even just on the spreadsheet month after month is incredibly motivating.  Trust me!

I’ve said it once and I’ve said it before, the most important thing we did to make this possible was set a goal…that simple. Pay off the big loans and save as much as we could.  It all came down to a single goal from a single decision; we stuck to our plan, made sacrifices when we needed.

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