Resignation done. What’s next? How can I afford and survive traveling for the next 3 to 6 months without any source of fixed income? It’s all because I practice the Law of Abundance and have been living frugally since 2012!
I’ve decided to make this post since I only receive two reactions/questions from my friends and relatives about my frustration and traveling plans. It’s either:
1. Wow, you’re already rich to afford that, libre naman/pasalubong! (Please treat us out/ bring some souvenirs from the Middle East); or
2. How can you afford that? What will be your source of income?
I’m too tired of answering these over and over and people have their different opinions about my plans; well I don’t really care anyway since I have the GO! The signal from my Mother to do this. Then, I’m fine! Below is how I prepared myself for this much-awaited backpacking trip!
Filipina Backpacker: How can I afford to travel for a few months?
It’s not how much you earn, but how much do you save?
Whenever I talk to my friends who are “based” in the Philippines, they keep on saying that I must be rich because I’ve been working abroad for a long time. To be honest it sometimes irritates me! LMAO. My Filipino friends working abroad understand where I’m coming from!
Yeah, I was earning Kuwaiti Dinar (in Kuwait) and US dollars (in Iraq), and if converted my income is literally above the average monthly income of even Managers in my country. However, PLEASE DON’T FORGET TO COMPARE THE COST OF LIVING. The cost of living in the Philippines is way cheaper than in Kuwait and Iraq. So, even if I was earning a 6-digit figure when converted to peso, my monthly cost of living expenses and remittance used up most of my fixed income, this included the amount I spend on the food, emergency expenses, and credit card bills.
Frugality for me is far beyond being a cheapskate and being stingy (kuripot). It’s about knowing where to spend your hard-earned money and the gratification/reward/improvement that it will give you. I will not spend 10usd every day just for an overpriced brand of coffee but I’m willing to spend 100usd for a good pampering massage if you get what I mean! I always consider myself generous, but only if it’s a necessity, an emergency, or an investment. Ask my siblings!
I don’t tolerate borrowing and lending money and made that a personal rule ‘cuz I’ve been there, done that, and lost a few good friends who weren’t able to pay me back (all based on my personal experience – you will likely lose a good friend). One article that I’ve read says, “Friendship is more important than money; it takes time to gain friends but money, you can easily earn with your income.” I believe that this is true, though I also believe that in most cases, lending them money is not the best way to help a friend.
Before I answer the question, I will just be giving a brief background on how I prepared myself, together with God’s wisdom, for the trip emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Quick Background of my Lifestyle in Kuwait (2009 to 2012)
“You can pay for school, but you can’t buy class.”
My lifestyle in Kuwait was very decent and I used to spoil myself before I started living frugally in 2012. I had my own car, rented my own apartment (just with my mom and not sharing with other people, partied a lot, had a gym membership, pampered myself, and went to almost all of the nicest restaurants. Starbucks, Pinkberry, and other overpriced Western brands were not my thing, however (Thank GOD!).
I don’t even consider myself a shopaholic since most of the things and clothes that I had were the things that I had been using since I was my University days but I was very willing to spend money on my personal happiness and investing in my self-growth. I even traveled to 9 countries in 2012. I was able to reward myself with all this leisure as a cause I was living very frugally!
Another achievement was that in 2012, I started paying in advance for the house (condominium) that I solely purchased for myself which will be turned over to me in 2015. Long way to go!
Quick Background of my Lifestyle in Iraq (5 months)
“In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current.”
When I decided to move to Iraq, I literally just moved without a concrete job contract but just job offers. I was supposed to move to Baghdad but I wasn’t able to because of some technicalities with my citizenship. Therefore, it was a big risk and investment. I did not expect that I would not have any source of income for the first 2 months due to my being choosy and cocky with the job offers. I also arrived during the holiday season; most of the big bosses/hiring decision-makers of Oil and Multinational companies would only come back from vacation after 08 January.
Why two months of no income?
1st Month: I quit my Job in Kuwait on the 3rd of December, flew to Istanbul then returned to Kuwait to do yoga until I officially received my Iraqi-Kurdistan entry visa, and then flew to Iraq on the 19th of December using my Qatar Airways Miles. Therefore, I didn’t get paid for the Month of December, though I had a blast celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day!
2nd month: I started working in Iraq on 26 January, but I had to go through several job offers because none of them matched the position and salary that I wanted. So I waited and waited and even considered just going back to Kuwait or maybe just pursuing this backpacking trip that I wanted to go on (good thing I didn’t cuz I knew I wasn’t emotionally, socially, and physically ready).
With all these factors, EMERGENCY SAVINGS to the rescue!! I had to survive to pay for my daily needs and I was required to pay my Fixed 500 USD advance payment for the house that I bought and pay the minimum dues of my Kuwait credit card! Drinking also became a habit for the first 3 months. It was the small expenses that I didn’t expect to outbalance my balance sheet! LMAO.
During this time, it was hard for me just to survive without knowing when I could work again and have a new source of income (but with the Law of Attraction it arrived very soon) I literally became spiritual cuz of that if you know what I mean! LOL, But now I’ve realized that those almost two months of “soul searching” helped me to be prepared for what I was going to be doing for the next 3 to 6 months! Also, during that time of my life, I religiously practiced the Law of Abundance in addition to a frugal lifestyle. With that law of abundance in my mentality, I literally never felt that I was running out of money since I claimed that money was always overflowing.
My Backpacking Plan: How can I afford it??
“There are two primary choices in life; to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.” – Denis Waitley
Basically, one of the reasons I practiced frugal living was because I was already planning to take a break from work and have the financial freedom to do so. By having financial freedom, you always have a choice, be free to do whatever you want; and I think I almost did (since I only owed money to my credit card company – which I had no plans to cut since I had a good limit, just in case of emergency). Thank God I learned how and when to use my card responsibly!
Since 2012, I’ve been saving 10% from my monthly income for my savings which I’m sending directly to my savings bank account in the Philippines (so I wouldn’t even dare to spend it and to guarantee that I’ll always have a fall back just in case something happened to me in the Middle East – war or any worst-case scenario that you can imagine). Another 10% was intended for my Emergency on-hand cash that I kept with me (hidden in my books, drawers, and small bags. yeah, I did that!
Fixed Income – (Savings/Emergency Cash + Monthly COLA&R) = Travel Budget
The preparation plan for my backpacking.
I’ll pay 3 months in advance for the house that I bought prior to flying to Bangkok since I couldn’t be sure if I would be able to send monthly payments; I didn’t even know where I would be by then.
Apply for an E-Debit Card at the Bank in the Philippines for my online transactions – flight booking, hotels and etc. I will try not to use my credit card but at least have to pay the minimum every month since I needed it in case of an emergency.
Therefore, for this backpacking trip,
the challenge is to live for the next 3 to 6 months with just 10 – 15usd per day! Frugality at its finest! I know this is possible!!
Below is the summary of my “own version” comparison and balance sheet! =)
Inflow and Other Stuff:
“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
My advice to those who want to become a traveler
Look, you better assess your life and stop thinking that you can’t afford to travel!! Yes, you can! Law of Attraction and Abundance will work well with your traveling frustration then start to add frugal living to your lifestyle to prepare yourself! Frugal living without looking cheap and compromising your convenience and still being able to do adventurous things and random pampering. Well, you can never buy class… It’s inborn… Let’s get it on!!
UPDATE – I’m still backpacking since I left Kurdistan, Iraq last April 2013! I am now promoting a Sustainable Travel Lifestyle!! What is it? I wrote it in this article.
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