A thorough examination and an honest discussion this past week about our weekly budget and what remains in our savings account has resulted in the decision to change how we manage our budget.
First A Bit of Background
For nine months prior to starting our life on the road we diligently and with a steadfast focus saved our butts off, living to a strict budget. We saved to have both enough money in the bank to travel for twelve months (without needing to stop and work) and to have additional funds for emergencies or major unforeseen events. Our article How to Save Money to Caravan Australia talks in detail about what steps we took to reach our savings goals and provides ideas on how you could do the same.
When deciding how much we needed to save, prior to starting our life caravanning Australia, we decided what our weekly budget would be; $500 per week all inclusive with $400 living expenses and $100 for things like insurances and registrations. In our article How Much To Travel Around Australia we discuss how we reached our budget amount as well as provide tips on how you can decide yours and strategies to help you keep to the budget you decide.
Heading off that first day, 27 November 2017, I felt financially we had our bases covered. We had enough in savings to very comfortably travel for six months without having to consider working and with due care twelve months would be highly possible. This month, August 2018 brings us to ten months caravanning Australia, sticking to our $500 weekly budget and so far we haven’t needed to work.
How Have We Gone So Far?
Well six months came and went (felt like a few weeks!) having had enjoyed four months in Tasmania and then two months travelling through the Gippslands of Victoria and the NSW South Coast. At the time, 6 Months Caravanning Australia, we did a thorough check of our money situation and found we had spent only $11.16 per week over our budget. We also concluded that our strict budget hadn’t impeded our experience or enjoyment of living on the road and it was then we decided we could continue travelling for another six months without needing to work. Happy days!
Now What With the Budget?
Now at the 10 month mark, a close examination our finances revealed that thanks to a couple of healthy tax returns and little boost from some interest on our savings we have more funds at this time than we anticipated we would. This is pleasing for us. However in our discussion this time about our $500 per week budget, it’s ability to meet our needs while we travel and if we were still able to get the most out of the experience we found $500 is not always enough. This has especially been true since we reached Queensland due we think because of it being a state of high tourism as well as great distances and remoteness. Reality is tourism and remoteness brings with them higher costs so based on this we decided to change how we manage our budget.
Truth be told there is also another reason for the change. So earlier in this article I said our overspend in the first six months was only $11.16 per week. This achieved because we (mainly me) managed the budget very very strictly. In hindsight it came from behaviours and habits I developed in those nine months we saved to travel. In addition I have had some anxieties about staying afloat financially when unemployed while desperately wanting at least a year off work. Well now I want to challenge and push back these anxieties. I want to let go of the total control and be more open to the idea that from necessity we will find opportunities (ie if we become flat broke jobs will be available). I want to take this as another important step in really settling into this life living on the road; a life of adventure, opportunity and less stress.
What Changes are we Making?
Our base weekly budget will remain at $400 for day to day expenses. What has changed is what happens if we spend more than the $400 in a week. Up until now if in any week we spend more than our self allocated $400, the following week or two we paid ourselves back the overspend. Not every week did we spend more than our budget, the most from memory was $75. There have been plenty of weeks we didn’t spend our entire weekly amount with $96 the most being left at the end of the week.
Now no more. We will no longer be concerned if we need to go over budget. We aren’t about to go all out spending money Willy Nilly but if things are needed or there is something we really want to do and the money for the week is already spent we are just going to give ourselves the extra money and not pay ourselves back the following week/s. We are going to trial this for the next two months at which time we will be taking some time to work and top up the savings again. But we will look then at what our spending has been and set a target for our savings again.
Originally Published: 25 August 2018
Republished: 21 January 2020