“How can you afford that?”

How I deal with unwarranted questions like this related to my traveling and lifestyle and some tips on how I actually do afford it.

Venice, Italy

I believe travel is something everyone should prioritize in his or her life. Getting out there and seeing the world, experiencing new cultures, meeting different people, trying new foods, all of it helps you grow as a person and is much more valuable than most material things in your life. I always did well in school, graduated decently high up in my high school, went to a great college, and also went there for graduate school, so I always considered myself a well educated person. Once I started traveling more frequently, especially internationally, I realized that sure I was educated in the sense that I had some degrees, but my knowledge was SO minuscule with respect to how much there is out there to learn, most of which you can’t even learn from a textbook. I knew I needed to educate myself beyond the textbooks, and understand how much I had to still learn. The desire to learn as much as I can about the world and difference cultures is a huge reason why I have travel so high up on my priority list. Once I was in that mindset of having travel as such a high priority, I never really thought about how I would do it I just knew I would make it work somehow.

Recently, I had moved out of my parents’ house and closer to New York City where I work. Before I did, I was excitedly telling one of my friends about how the apartment search was going, and then the conversation migrated to upcoming trips. I told her about my trip to Europe with Doug (the cancelled one *sigh* read about that here). The first words out of her mouth were “how can you even afford all of that if you’re moving out” along with a very judgmental face. My blood immediately started boiling. I wanted to get angry and just yell at her for being so rude, because that is absolutely none of anyone’s’ business, but I quickly came to my senses. I realized that not everyone has the same priorities as I do, so I calmly replied with a simple “I know how to budget my money”. Apparently, that’s all she needed to hear, and then she went on about a trip she thinks we should take together in the near future.

Budgeting is the most important piece to my travel-filled lifestyle. I cannot stress enough how useful it is, but maybe that is just the accountant in me. At the beginning of every month, I go through what I spent the month before and categorize it so I can see where my money is really going. I compare it to what I wanted to spend in each category and see where I can make improvements the next month. I try to be realistic with my budgeted amounts, but knowing the budgeted number is there definitely makes me more conscious every time I go to swipe (or insert) that card. When I first started combing through all of my expenses every month it pointed out how much useless spending I was really doing and how much I needed to adjust. Once I got my useless spending under control I had a little more to add to my travel budget.

Aside from budgeting, there are plenty of other little things I do in my life to help fund my trips. Here’s some things you can try! (1) Try going zero-waste. I am slowly going zero-waste, which saves me a lot of money since I am finding more permanent/reusable solutions to use during my daily routine. The process is slow and definitely takes some getting use to, but you’re saving your wallet and the environment at the same time, so it is totally worth it. (2) Cook for yourself. Eating out can be extremely expensive (and unhealthy). I consider going out to lunch or dinner a treat at this point. It honestly even makes the experience more enjoyable if you’re not constantly doing it. (3) Sign up for some cash back/coupon programs. I bet you’ve seen the advertisements a million times and ignored them every single time, but next time one pops up, maybe give it a click. I use Rakuten, which is an amazing cash back program [not an ad]. Your cash back balance adds up quickly, even if the transaction amounts seem tiny. Having this extra income, no matter how little it may be, really helps since it can cover some of your normal expenses, which leaves you more money to travel with, yay! Hopefully some of these tips help you fund your travels a bit too!

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Luckily for me, my friend in that one instance was satisfied with my budget response, but that is not always the case when people ask those types of questions. A lot of the time, it is easiest to just respond with something along the lines of “I am not comfortable discussing my finances”, as a gentle reminder that it is usually not okay to be asking these types of questions.  Unfortunately, that response sometimes still isn’t sufficient for some people. If anyone keeps digging for an answer about how I do it, I simply explain how easy it is to find great deals online through various different websites and apps. It is important to remember that if whomever you’re speaking with does not regularly travel, they probably assume it is always expensive and never look into it. Informing them or reminding them of all of the travel deals out there may make them realize how affordable travel can be, and hey maybe they’ll even start to explore more of the world themselves!

Just remember, it is important to stay calm during these situations. There is no use in getting worked up over a silly question like I almost did. It is also important to remember that everyone’s situation is different, so always try and be considerate when discussing relatively delicate matters, such as finances!

Have you ever dealt with friends or family (or maybe strangers) asking these types of questions? How do you deal with these types of questions? Comment below!

If you ever want any more details regarding these tips or even just budgeting, please always feel free to contact me!

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