Saving Cash for an Emergency. . . or a Trip.
July 23, 2016
July 23, 2016
A good friend tonight updated their social media that due to a tropical storm, their bank was closed and they had no way to get money. They weren’t going to starve or die or boredom, but it was an inconvenience.
But seriously, how much cash should you put away for a disaster?
Exactly how much cash you should put away for a vacation?
Between and during all of my long walks, I would do ridiculous amounts of research on the area I’d be travelling. In my notebook, I would tuck any extra daily cash I had between the pages while writing my notes. (I did not carry this notebook around, obviously.) For the longer trips, I had a series of map books; the Delorme Gazeteers, for each area I would be travelling. Each page had about 3-5 days worth of hiking to cross at a realistic, long-distance pace. As I did my research, I would tuck the money needed for that page into the map. Eventually, I would mail the maps ahead to post offices, general delivery, and would have enough money to finance the next leg of the journey.
So, you want to have an emergency cache of cash or perhaps you want to plan a trip around the world. Here’s an easy way to do both.
- Go get a two year outdated tour book from a used bookstore for $2.00 (or amazon for $0.25)
- Start reading it.
- Get a rough idea of what your weekly luxury budget is (lagers and lattes). Each week, on Friday (or whatever day starts your weekend) go withdrawl that budget in cash.
- Stick in the middle of the book.
- Keep reading the book but now, whenever you want a luxury, you grab some cash from the book.
- DO NOT CHEAT. Don’t use credit cards, apps, or bar tabs to exceed your budget.
- As you read about things you would like to do, annote how much it will cost.
- At the end of the week, withdraw next week’s recreational budget in cash.
- This time, before you stick your cash in the middle of the book, take what was left over and put it in between the pages of the places you want to go. Tuck it all the way in, it’s not a damned bookmark, it’s a savings account.
- Keep this going. The first few weeks of this, you’ll be motivated and trying to tuck some extra money into canoodling with camels in cairo or swimming with sharks in San Antonio. You’ll still get your lagers and lattes, but at the end of the week, there will be some more left over. Someday, there won’t be
Withdrawing money from your disaster savings account:
At some point, before your trip is financed, you might have a good week and spend all your budget by Monday, or, the dead may return to life, and you may need to buy a chainsaw at a yardsale. Hell, you may mid-life crisis and want to spend all your money at REI and live in the woods forever (or buy an Audi).
- Now go back to a page that has a denomination you want.
- Read about what you were saving for.
- Decide, are you willing to give up draughts in Dublin for drink downtown? Do you want to drink lattes in Timbuktu or traffic?
- Use that money if it feels right. One of the most memorable nights of my life was funded with an 18 pack of Natural Ice, and I knew it before I bought it. I was a bartender during 9/11, and wound up half past broke for 3 months, and the cash kept me from drawing on any retirement accounts (and paying half of it in taxes)
- If it doesn’t fell right, turn the page. Find something less interesting than what you are planning on spending your money on. If you can’t, by the time you realize it, you’ll have probably decided not to impulse spend.
Eventually, You’re going to have enough money to go on that trip. Start saving money in the bank for it as you make your reservations and plan. The goal now is to try and put together enough money that you don’t need the cash, and you can simply put it someplace safe and have it set aside for a rainy, earthquaky, disastrous day.