How do you do it?
How do you afford it?
These are two of the questions I have answered most frequently as I have mentioned how I have lived the past few years.
Since I graduated high school in June 2008, I have only worked full time for a total of three years.
I have lived out of my suitcase, so to speak. I have had quite a simple and decluttered life, though, pretty adventurous most of the time (although I fail to acknowledge this myself from time to time).
The truth is, there is no hidden secret, no specific trick to learn.
Since the dawn of 2010, I live by the saying “Where there is a will, there is a way”.
The only answer to the questions is: determination, perhaps also prioritizing the ‘right’ way.
So how have I managed to afford paying for one flight ticket after another, financing one train ride after another, going on multiple spontaneous trips, while being a full time student and only working over the summer holidays?
By cutting out bits and pieces, by closely and carefully paying attention to every spending, finding little ways to save yet another 20 p.
Yes, sometimes I do go out of my way to save only 20 p. It is not so much about each and every little penny you can save, but rather about adopting the mindset to do it.
For years I have chosen not to spend any cash on nights out.
I do not spend much money on clothing shopping (I still dress nicely and look decent, but I use my favourite outfits, and shoes, until they literally tear apart.)
I hardly ever go to the cinema. If I do, I make sure I can make use of my student discount.
I buy most things when it is reduced, or on sale. If I see a deal, I sometimes stock up so I have exactly enough for the remaining time I have in the place I am currently in. This also means I won’t have to throw anything away, or take excessive amounts of shampoo with me, which essentially could lead to too much luggage and thus needing to pay for overweight.
I have gone to the hairdressers about four times since March 2011. I have had my hair cut twice as many times though. Either I cut it myself, or I nicely ask any of my local friends.
I lived in a hostel for almost a year as I was working in Edinburgh – to minimize my living expenses so I could use them for traveling instead. I actually really enjoyed this at the time. The year in Edinburgh was one of the best of my life. I did not sleep much that year, but it was worth every second of exhaustion.
Over the summer holidays, when I do not have my own place to stay in, I go home and live with my parents. I am way into my late 20s at this point, and have lived away from home for most parts since 2009 so this is not always ideal or the easiest. But it is the best option for the time being. My parents also always very nicely let me live at home for a while. Not everyone has this option.
As you see, it is really only about the choices you make. It takes planning, sometimes detailed daily planning. Sometimes I choose to miss out on something that I might have wanted to do, but it is true – you cannot have it all.
I see it this way – as I temporarily reside in one place, I live a rather ‘boring’ (less adventurous) life, only so I can have my greater adventure next season.
Though, if there is something I really really want, I make sure it happens and I spend every penny it cost.
When I am under employment, I always make sure the manager is well aware of my eagerness to work. This gives me many more shifts than if I would have been passive. It also means that I will be remembered after my season of working, and most likely I’ll be taken back on if I want to. Every manager loves staff with a strong willingness to work and a good work morale and ethic.
Do remember this though – not all good things in life cost something. Most of it is free. I personally like how the mindset ‘living as cheaply as possible’ stretches your creativity and makes you acknowledge and appreciate things you otherwise wouldn’t have.
For instance – since I do not go out for a nice meal very often, I really appreciate it when I do.
When I went to the cinema the other week, I really enjoyed the experience, because I had almost forgotten what it is like watching a film in a theatre.