Yes, You Can Afford to Travel More... If You Stop Spending Money on Stupid Crap.

Sometimes people respond to my travel schedule with comments such as "I can't afford to do that" or "I can't believe you spend so much money on that."

I look at what some other people spend their money on, and I think- I can't afford to waste money on that.

I prefer to spend money on life experiences rather than physical possessions. For me, the life experiences I enjoy include visiting tourists sites across the country for road races, bike rides, and other endurance events.  These races have given me the chance to run, walk or bike ride in the most beautiful, scenic and amazing places in the United States.  I get in my exercise and my sightseeing (often on the course).

Want to travel more?  Study your spending habits for a month.  I bet you'll see your patterns within a week and see where you can change what you buy to have more money for travel adventures.

A pack of cigarettes a day in New England is about $8.50 a day.  If you smoke a pack a day, that's over $3,000.00 dollars a year.  That's easily a trip for a family of four to Walt Disney World. Or, in terms of endurance events- that's about 45 race entries for a year.

If you buy a cup of coffee (regular or fancy) from a coffee shop daily, on average you're spending $780.00 a year.  That's my trip to see the Redwoods in California.  Or, that's 10 half marathons.

Are you doing one or two errand drives a day? Combine all your errands into one day a week to save gas and time.  See how many places you could walk to, or even take a bus to, to save driving around.

These are just three quick and easy examples of how money spent on everyday non-essentials can add up, and could easily be directed to your savings account or your travel fund.

There are many other physical items people choose to spend money on that I don't so I can travel instead.  I don't need the latest phone or computer.  I don't have cable television.  I use my local library system for books.  I don't buy $300 purses or shoes.  I don't buy a video that I'll watch once and then sell at a tag sale in two years.  See the pattern?  I question everything I may want to see if I really need it.

This is different from the basics of food, shelter, clothing, and utilities (electricity, water and heat). But within this realm, I question what I am buying (as I don't need soda or highly processed frankenfoods).  

I travel as cheaply as possible. I don't need to stay in five star resorts (but I'm not staying somewhere where I sleep with the lights on in fear either).  I room share as much as possible.  I don't need to eat in super fancy restaurants every night.  I don't come home with trinkets or gifts (of which most wind up being clutter).  I price out flights versus driving, rental cars versus Zipcar, and mass transit options.  A little time spent researching and planning can save you a lot in the long run.

If money and income is limited, it comes down to making the best choices for how you use your resources.  Will you spend $10.00 a day at your workplace cafeteria buying breakfast, lunch and/or snacks, or will you brown-bag it and use the money for travel instead?  Will you skip going to see a movie in the theaters at $11.00 a ticket and wait for it to come out on video and use that money towards a trip instead?

Those of us in the sporting hobby aren't innocent when it comes to not spending money on useless products.

Here are the areas where most endurance athletes waste their money:

1) Buying products that advertise they will make you run or bike faster.  While some of these items do actually work, based on your level of performance and competition, they're probably not worth it.

2) Buying products that guarantee you will lose weight.  (If these products really worked, we wouldn't have an obesity problem.)  There is no magic pill, drink, or shake for weight loss.  Some products may help with a good diet and exercise, but most often it's the diet and exercise that did the trick.  There are some supplements that help (such as vitamins and protein shakes) but the key word is supplement- they add on to a solid nutrition program.

3) Buying several pairs of shoes that don't fit you correctly or that you don't use because they look cute on you or because they're on sale.   Unused or bad-fitting shoes= waste of money.

4) Buying too many finisher's items, race commemorative merchandise, or accessory clothing.

5) Signing up for non refundable events that we don't have the time or dedication to train for.

6) Signing up for gym memberships that you don't use or classes that you don't go to.

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