Committing ourselves to a life of travel was a huge undertaking in itself, but now we had to dig in and talk about the money-sitch. Bleh. I mean, how the heck are two middle-class, college grads in our 20′s, going to be able to afford to galavant across the wines regions of the world? This was obviously our biggest concern, and hands-down the 1st question everyone asks when we talk about our trip. To make this financially viable at all, we had to first figure out how much money we would need and then devise ways to get as close to that number as possible. Pretty obvious I know, but not easy.
1.) How much to save (excluding airfare): $9,360
The best estimate we found as to the daily cost of living (modestly, of course) was to double the accommodation costs of where we’d be living. In our case, we’re starting in Argentina and plan to spend a lot of time there, so that’s what we budgeted for. Our apartment in Buenos Aires is $26 USD per night, so we budgeted for $52 USD per day total. We planned to save enough money to sustain ourselves for 6 months without any income which works out to be $9,360 USD. Our hope is that this will be enough money to sustain us while we settle in and find work. We’ll update this once we see how everything actually works out though!
2. Start automatically saving each month: $8,000.
Since we had a firm number to shoot for, the first and best thing we did was set up an automatic transfer from our checking accounts into our savings account. As soon as our paychecks were in each month-Vino Vagabonds got paid first! It was super easy and since the money wasn’t linked to our debit cards, we didnt blow more than we planned on nights out. We also each worked at an amazing sushi restaurant one to two nights a week for a little extra cash and put all that into savings too…every bit counts!
3.) Cut Costs: Roughly $2,000
We were setting aside a base amount each month which really got the ball rolling, but we still needed to do more if we were going to make our travel dream a reality. We needed to cut our spending big time. The name Vino Vagabonds should make it pretty obvious that we like to eat and drink, and since we couldn’t give up going out completely, we decided to cut it down to just once a week and keep it cheap. We went to happy hours for apps and drinks, then home for dinner, we’d go wine tasting with friends (which is free if you work in the industry) buy a bottle to share and then picnic, we hit local farmers markets for samples and cheap beers, and even go to museums and events during member hours, industry nights and free days.
We got even more creative on our 6 days “in”. We had themed potluck dinner parties, fancy brunches on the patio where one person cooked and everyone else brought champagne from home. We had game nights, played bocce ball, hit golf balls at the driving range for $5 USD and went dancing after having dinner and drinks at home . These were all great alternatives to the traditional $100 night out, and seeing our savings account grow each month was addicting.
In other efforts to cut the fat off our spending, we cancelled our magazine subscriptions and followed the online versions, exchanged our gym member ships for amazing outdoor workouts, and did home massages and mani-pedis- I was a little more into this last one than Jeff!
4.) Sell it all: $3,830
Like proper vagabonds should, we decided to sell all our worldly belongings. I have to take a moment here to explain how liberating it felt for us to get rid of everything . We had all this stuff that we thought was necessary for our happiness, and it wasn’t until we decided to sell these things that we realized how little we actually did need, how much each item had tied us down and how free we felt after it all was gone! We finally felt able to move, stretch our legs and fly off on our journey unburdened! I will admit though, there were a few things that we just couldn’t part with and decided to hang onto (ie: Jeff’s golf clubs, our favorite pieces of art and an awesome pair of heels), but everything else went bye-bye!
We used a few different methods to sell stuff and it was crazy, but people bought things we didn’t think we could even give away. Here are the earnings broken down by the outlets worked best for us:
*Craigslist: $2,260- Jeff’s truck, lamp, iPod, DVD’s collection
*Wine Commune: $900- wine we weren’t keeping
*Garage sale: $620- table, camera, stereo system, bike, desktop computer, kitchen ware, glasses, picture frames, prints, purses, shoes and cheap clothes.
*Consignment: $50- Jeff’s jackets. We used a local shop, but Buffalo Exchange is a good place that’s easy to find.
*Goodwill: Happy feeling- We took everything else we didn’t sell here. They are great, accept everything and even though you don’t get hard cash, they give out receipts for tax deductions!
Other avenues we thought about but get around to using are Facebook and Ebay, but I’m sure they’d be very effective.
Total amount saved to begin our journey with: $12, 530
($13,830 total minus $1,300 for airfare from Texas to Los Angeles AND Los Angeles to Buenos Aires)
Money sitch Accomplished!
Check out the final ”How” in ”Part 3: How we plan to sustain our Vino Vagabonding”