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Travel Hacking for Beginners: How to Travel More Annually and Remove Debt - Financially Well Off
Financially Well Off
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Travel Hacking for Beginners: How to Travel More Annually and Remove Debt

Gary is a full-time business analyst by day and entrepreneur by night. After being fed up with debt he began tracking his expenses and paid off 50K+ in loans. He blogs at DebtFreeClimb, where he helps others travel-hack and save money. 

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Key Takeaways

  1. Track your expenses to get a clear picture of where you stand with your debt.
  2. Leverage business credit-cards to get the most out of travel-hacking--since they have less restrictions.

Podcast Interview Notes:

1. How were you able to build the discipline to pay off 55K in debt?

I got super-motivated once I saw my balances.

I’m the type of person that doesn’t like owing anybody anything, but when I was in college I was unintentional. I felt fine with following everybody else in signing up for student loans. 

If I’d made the minimum payments on my student loans it’s would’ve taken me ten years to pay them off. So, I knew I needed to make a change, and began tracking all my expenses. Luckily, working at my first job I was earning a 45K.

As I was tracking my expenses I’d noticed there were major flaws holding me back. In Austin, I was paying $1200 a month for my apartment. I also had a truck that I leased paying$400 a month. Through tracking my expenses I’d found more leaks but slowly made more improvements along the way.

Eventually, I made bigger payments to my loans and became motivated by this.

2. What advice would you give to Millennials looking to travel more but are on a budget?

Travel hacking can mean many different things.

The most popular form of travel hacking involves using a credit card’s bonuses. You’d use these bonuses to apply for airline flights and travel accommodations.

I have a Capital One 360 savings account that I automatically save for a couple of times each month. This prevents me from having unexpected expenses when I’d want to go on a trip. I’m also flexible with my dates and times of going on trips since it’s cheaper to fly out on Wednesdays or Saturdays.

Here are a few things I do to optimize my travel-hacking: 

  • Use Scott’s Cheap Flights which sends me destination alerts for finding the best deals. This service helps you finds good deals so it’s worth paying for.
  • Stay in hotels with free breakfast
  • Rent out an Airbnb and split it between five to six people whenever I travel with friends.

I put all my expenses on travel credit cards. But, to do this you’d need a great credit score and the discipline to pay off your balance every month.

3. What’s worthwhile investment you’ve made in your life?

Investing in a mentor.

Last year I paid money to work with a mentor who’d helped me plan my life and set new goals. Afterward, I got more organized with my life.

Having that role model that you can talk to one-on-one is worth it. 

In addition to working with a mentor, books and podcasts have helped me tremendously. Through my debt-free journey, I became obsessed with living my best life and these have been valuable tools to have through my journey.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve received about money? (i.e. always save 10% of your income)

Tacking my spending.

One day and I was looking at mint.com and began using this tool to track my expenses. Eventually, I’d developed the habit of tracking my expenses and it snowballed into becoming intentional with my spending.

Another tip I’d learned was paying myself first automatically. If people automatically save for their retirement, they’ll never miss this money. 

Money Round

How would you spend $1000?

Definitely on an experience.

I’d like to say some sort of asset that’s gonna pay in a return. like a development conference or mentoring. But, I’d also spend on great experiences like traveling.

I’d like to travel to more parts of the world.

What advice would you give to someone who's currently struggling with their finances and feeling hopeless?

First thing for sure is to make a plan.

I see this all the time, and I’ve struggled with it too. A lot of people ignore their problem since they don’t wanna face it. Instead, write your finances down to get a clear picture for where you stand.

Writing down my debt amounts and seeing that on paper has helped stay motivated during the debt paying process. I’d made a list of all my debts by interest rate, used a debt-reduction calculator to show me how long it would take to pay them off.

So that motivated me a lot to pay more and just be really intentional. Like I said before, and that ties into tracking your spending, and then with kind of that same concept making a list of your highest expenses from tracking and identifying places you can cut. So I got a roommate, so I lowered my rent in half. I got rid of my car, my leased car at the time, and got a used car. And then I was a little more intentional with my food and I started batch-cooking on Sundays so that helped me a lot.

Many times people aren’t earning enough to pay down debt fast enough. Because there’s the sharing economy it’s now easier than ever to earn additional income.

For example, if you own a home you can rent out on Airbnb or get roommates. If you don’t have a home you can use Wag to walk dogs. Simple tasks like these can help you earn hundreds of extra dollars each month.

Finally, it’s important to listen to podcasts like Dave Ramsey’s. Why? Because they have people in similar situations as you, who are sharing their stories and this will help you stay motivated.

What does money mean to you?

Money means is a  tool that I can use for freedom.

Freedom is what I’m striving for right now. Having the freedom to make my own choices is really important. But managing your money effectively is important to get there. ‘

If you can’t manage your money you’ll never have this freedom.

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About the Author Chris

Chris writes personal finance and productivity articles for software companies. He gets fresh ideas through continuously investing in himself and interviewing successful entrepreneurs.

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