12 Oct Optimize expenses before becoming a Digital Nomad
Do you want to have better habits so that the money you have is enough? Wanting to gather for a dream, to change jobs, or to become a digital nomad or a freelancer? Then keep reading.
Many times my friends have asked how can I make my money last until the end of a month and, sometimes, I even manage to save while receiving less income than they do.
I have seen many people say that they cannot cover all of their expenses. Sometimes, circumstances force us to regulate them, to survive during a transition period in which income decreases or does not exist; like when we move to a new country, become freelancers, lose our jobs, or have to live with our savings for a while.
This is why I decided to share with you my strategy so that the money I have can cover all my needs and in order for you to manage to do so as well.
First, I want you to imagine that you are a company and that you need to know the monthly budget necessary to be able to cover all of your expenses. But, how can you know how much you spend monthly?
Let’s start by listing all the fixed expenses that, although they vary in number, we pay monthly. For this, I recommend using round numbers, averages if the values are very similar to each other or the maximum, to make sure we do not fall short in our calculations. It is also recommended to look at the periodicity in some expenses, such as: if in the winter we use more hot water, we use a heater fan or electrical equipment to heat ourselves, etc.
Next, make a list of Fixed Expenses, according to the definition indicated above and their periodicity.
Example of expenses considered fixed according to my definition:
- Common expenses
- And other expenses associated with the home
In my case, for the periodicity, I spend more water and electricity in the winter months. The value duplicates.
After writing down all these values, add to the list: food, transportation and the rest of the variable expenses you have.
For food, you can make the calculation by taking an estimate of your weekly spendings and for transportation, multiplying the number of times daily or weekly that you get on the bus or spend in gasoline, etc.
Ready. Once we have this list, the first thing to do is see which of them are essential and which we can reduce. Once this is considered, try to adjust the amounts to the minimum amount with which you can live and add an additional percentage or monthly amount for contingencies, such as: medications, medical appointments, repairs, unforeseen events, etc.
The next step will be to see which of the habits that I will mention below, you can incorporate into your daily life to reduce your expenses:
- Light bulbs: Use led or fluorescent bulbs. Make sure they have enough watts to illuminate the entire space so that you do not have to use two. In the case of table lamps, we can point them towards the wall to increase their ability to illuminate.
- Calefont: It can be changed to a gas one or turned on for a predefined time. Each calefont is different, you must know yours. For example, in my case, it needs to be three lines above the midpoint to last for a one-person bath and six lines for two. It takes around 30min to reach three lines and it takes around 24 hours to drop below this value. In winter, when the water in the pipes is colder, it takes longer to heat up and cools down in about 12 hours. So, this must be taken into account in order to know when to turn it on and for how long. In case of bathing daily at the same time, you could put a timer so that it turns on by itself and hot water is available at the time you require it.
- Try to keep electrical equipment that is not in use unplugged. It can also be efficient to use an extension cord / power strip and turn it off.
- Turn on the stove or heater for short periods, to acclimate and keep the environments closed so that the heat does not escape. Blackout curtains also help maintain temperature when closed. Gloves or warm clothing can be used to minimize the use of electrical equipment.
- Use a kettle to heat the water that will be used for cooking.
- Wash clothes when you have a full load, so you will fill and use the washing machine less often. If washing in the laundry or using a washing machine in the building, consider buying a washing machine that can be a used one initially, this could save you some money. Dry clothes in the sun preferably, there are departments where even being on a clothesline indoors, the clothes dry.
- When washing plates, wet everything and later put some soap with the water closed.
- If possible, open the shower head at a lower flow rate and prefer to use a bathroom soap dispenser for it.
- If you have water leaks, repair them.
- Buy items on sale or where they are cheaper as possible. Example: buying vegetables at fairs / markets.
- Give preference to seasonal fruits, which are cheaper at that time and are endowed by nature with the components that our immune system needs at that time. For example: citrus fruits occur in times when the flu usually is in the atmosphere.
- Cooking instead of buying ready-made food can be a source of savings. And when you eat out, take advantage of all the possible discounts.
Now that you know how much money you need to cover your minimum necessary for your monthly expenses and you have put into practice habits that help to optimize it, then you can ask yourself the following question: Is the money I receive enough to cover my minimum necessary expenses to live?
If the answer is yes and there is a surplus, you can save this excess or manage it to buy or acquire things you want, such as: objects, trips, courses; you decide what to spend it on. Start with the things you need, in order of priority. You should also consider a percentage of savings for future contingencies or simply for some long-term objectives.
If the answer is no, then you should think about how to increase your income to cover, at least, your minimum budget.
If you want to change jobs, live from your savings for a while or become a freelancer, now you can know how much money you need to earn monthly to live and thus be able to adapt according to the income you receive. Example: I like to have at least the next three months insured before spending on additional things and my priority will be things that I need to improve my work such as tools and that in the long term can generate an income.
For me, money buys time, time to plant the things that we want and that may take a while to germinate. Little by little, make small improvements, try and try, discover new ways to reach your goal. In my case, I appreciate free time and use it so that I can have more free time in the future.
Each person must establish the conditions in which they want to live, the restrictions they are willing to tolerate, for how long and for what benefit. Thus, to the extent that conditions are more conducive, we can, for example, eat more on the street and allow ourselves other small luxuries to expand our monthly budget and adapt it to our new needs that may be a little more ambitious.
In my case, money always gave me some sense of security and not having it made me insecure. But gradually I have come to understand that part of the job is to reformulate some beliefs and look for what makes us happy. I see them as small jumps of faith, but every time I do one and have to rebuild myself like the phoenix, the new final state is superior to the one I left before the jump. Everything recovers if we have the correct mental state, we are our main asset.
So, in case you have a project in mind, whether it is to acquire new assets, skills, a different lifestyle, plan a trip, change jobs or become a freelancer, you should apply these same principles and look for the tools and opportunities that bring you closer to where you want to be.
Good luck and a happy travelling!