How to Afford a Big New Life Adventure Without Debt

We're taking an big new life adventure without debt. Here's how.

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It’s one thing to say “oh yeah, we’re going to totally start over and head off on a big new life adventure” and it’s another thing to make it actually happen. Starting over sounds kind of pricey.

And we are not going to go into debt.

So who has the money to just up and leave everything behind?

We’re not independently wealthy. We’re not tapping into a trust fund. We did not win the lottery (sad day about that, though, huh?).

But we are going to do this — our Humans Forward adventure will happen, and we are not going to go into debt to do it. We sincerely hope we don’t end up begging for food. So, what’s the secret? How are we going to make this whole thing work?

Here’s how we’ve been prepping so far.

How to Afford a Big New Life Adventure Without Debt

Plan ahead. This is the most important step. We didn’t just decide this second that we are going to do this. We started planning and saving for it last summer. It may take you more time to save for something this huge. But that doesn’t mean you should get discouraged. Start planning and working on it today.

Set a budget and stick to it. So how do you make sure you can save towards a big new adventure? When we started seriously thinking about getting out of the Army and starting over, we started working hard to stick to a budget. We use the Mint app and to set our monthly budget and make sure we stick to it. Our budget is reasonable — but it leaves enough to leave extra for each of our savings projects, including on Humans Forward adventure. Every month that we come in under budget, we reward ourselves by sticking the difference between our budget and what we spent into a savings account dedicated for a specific project. Most recently, for example, we used that money to fund our Florida trip.

Know the opportunity cost of ownership. Owning stuff comes at a cost. There’s an emotional and psychological price of having a lot of stuff. There’s also a time burden. But when it comes to moving you and your family across the country or around the world, stuff ownership starts to have an actual price tag — you have to move it or you have to store it, and both of those things carry a cash price tag.

Affording a big new adventure means examining not just the price of starting completely over — but the price of holding on to the past. Check out this video about my purge.

Do I really need this stuff? Or am I just holding onto it because I just can't let go?
Do I really need this stuff? Or am I just holding onto it because I just can’t let go?

Sell your stuff. Keeping in mind the cost of owning and moving too much stuff, we’re downsizing big time. Military families move frequently, so we are already pretty light on the extra stuff.

But still, we’re taking a hard look at all of the stuff we own and asking — is this something we really want to keep? That doesn’t mean just going through your medicine cabinet or purging the clothes you don’t wear. Look at your furniture. What of this is worth keeping and what could you do without? Will moving it cost more than buying a gently used replacement when you get where you’re going? Do you need that giant TV? Do you even like those throw pillows? Keep in mind that you’ll probably want to replace some of this stuff when you get where you’re going — so stick whatever you make selling stuff in a new stuff fund.

Don’t know where to sell stuff? If you have kids look at local consignment sales. Facebook, Craigslist and consignment thrift shops are also great places to take your belongings. And of course, if the weather is nice nothing beats a yard sale.

One Response

  1. Going from WA to NY we literally sold, gave away or stored in my Dad’s shop (some furniture) everything we owned except 1 footlocker a piece. Now another PCS later we are back to another 2 story house of things. Things are replaceable and they accumulate quickly. Family is forever and far superior in value. In about 12 odd months we’re doing it again. This time we’re going to set our son up in his first house, give away or sell all but some tools and treasures and head to Mexico right after retirement in our F150 loaded to the gills. You got this! Life is not nearly as fragile as people like to think. It finds a way…always.

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