We still have over a month left before we leave our house, but I can say, without a doubt, that this trip has been worthwhile. Even if we hate it (which I doubt) or cancel at the last minute (which we won’t), just the simple act of planning on traveling has forced so many positive changes on our lives. Here are a few examples:
Automation of Finances
This is something that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, but I never got around to it. I mean sure, I paid some bills online, but mostly I was still writing checks. I can’t do that in China, and frankly, I don’t want to be thinking about bills while I’m gone, so I’ve been forced to fully automate our finances and I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
We switched our checking account from a bank that was convenient to one a little further away but with great online banking features. It allows me to not only check my balance and spending online, but pay my bills as well. I can set up a one time payment, or a recurring payment and the bank prints out the check and mails it for me all at no cost. (Not even for the stamp!) It also has the added bonus of me never being late for a payment because everything is scheduled ahead of time.
We also have an online savings account. This is the account that my paycheck from the second job has been automatically deposited into over the past year. It has been my goal to sort of forget about that bank account so I’m not tempted to spend any of the money. My check went into it automatically, and over the past year I’ve only ever looked at the account to verify I was getting paid.
I’ve now linked the two accounts and while my bills will be paid from the checking account, the money will come out of savings account. The money goes in, the checks go out, and the payment is made all without me having to touch or do a thing. It will be a great relief for me to not have to think about bills while traveling.
Needs Become Wants
When you have a goal in mind, one that will take you away from the familiar for awhile your wants and needs shift immediately. Six months ago we went out to eat once a week. Now? We decided to not go out to eat the whole summer and cook at home instead. We know that soon, and for a year, we will be eating out for almost every meal so why waste the money?
This benefit has been a little bit of a surprise but I have found that things I needed, things I had to have seem quite silly now. I’ve been selling my used books and I’ve gotten a big credit at the bookstore. But I just don’t feel like buying any of that right now. We still need certain things, food, upkeep of the house etc, but as the date of departure gets closer, we are finding that we need less stuff, and we want less and less things.
Getting Rid of Clutter
I’ve already written about it once, but every week we purge more and more stuff. And every week it gets easier and easier. This week’s victim was my DVD collection and clothes. I got rid of about half of my movies, including a bunch of stuff on VHS (I had 3 different VHS versions of the Star Wars trilogy) and even some old favorites that I haven’t watched in years, and probably won’t want to watch for many, many more years (sorry Roger Rabbit). I’ve also pared down my clothes to about 12 summer shirts (I’ve either packed, stored or gotten rid of the rest.)
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Getting rid of stuff feels really, really good.
While there have been many benefits, I will admit that traveling has allowed us to be a little lazy in some parts of our lives as well. I quit the gym this summer, to save the money, and I’ve put no effort into the little garden that we started last year because it just doesn’t seem worth it right now. But overall traveling has forced so many positive changes on us that we will benefit from long after the trip is over.