mo•jo n., 1. short for mobile journalist. 2. a flair for charm and creativity.


  • by Roberto Rocha
  • published from Canada
  • on 2009.12.29

How to save money for a round-the-world trip

Photo by kiki99

“You’re so lucky,” people often tell me when they learn I’m taking a year off work to travel with Bianca. “I wish I could do that.”

The sentiment is understandable, but luck had nothing to do with it. I’m certainly fortunate to be in the position where I can do this.

But it wasn’t luck.

Truth is, I’ve been saving for this trip for nearly three years. While friends were buying condos, cars, nice furniture and having babies, I was putting money away. Most of my furniture were gifts from departing friends and family. I take public transit every day and keep the social expenses to a minimum.

In other words, I made the choices and sacrifices that allowed me to take this trip.

No secret recipe

I can’t tell you how exactly to accumulate enough cash for transport, lodging, food and activities for one year, since there are too many factors, such as a) where you want to go, b) where you live, and c) what your financial profile is. All I can offer are general guidelines to help you consider your own financial plans.

But everything can be distilled to a single sentence: don’t live beyond your means. Better yet, live below your means. Spend a lot less than you earn.

It sounds like common sense, but given that the the average household debt in Canada is nearly $40,000, it seems too many people suffer from dismal financial acumen.

Some folks just have to have the big plasma TV or the SUV. Even if they can’t afford it.

Trust a pro, not me

Before I dispense any advice, know this: there’s nothing I can’t tell you that a financial adviser can’t do better. That’s their job. They listen to your goals, analyze your financial situation, and draw up a plan suited to your needs. So before you listen to me, visit your bank or Google one in your town.

Now here’s my suggestion based on what I did.

Start with a financial profile

The very first thing you must do is calculate what you earn and what you spend each week and month. If you still have money left by the end of the month, pump your fists. This will be a lot easier. If you already have some savings set aside, even better. You’ll reach your goal even faster.

If your balance is negative, however, it’s time to make some tough decisions and simplify your life.

Open a low-risk, high yield investment account

You want your money to grow as much as it can in a short time, but most standard savings accounts give you lousy interest. You want to put it in an instrument that yields higher returns but isn’t too exposed to the volatility of the stock market. In fact, if you want to take your trip in less than five years from now, you want as little exposure to stocks as possible. Unless you’re a day trader, it’s too risky to expose yourself to a possible market correction.

My savings were barely affected by the global recession precisely because I put them in safe, predictable securities.

You have lots of options here:

Each has its own pros and cons. Again, a financial planner is the best source to help you decide.

Funnel your salary in

Set aside a part of your wage and have it transferred automatically to your investment account. Make it weekly or monthly. It doesn’t matter. This should be easy to do with online banking. As long as you don’t touch the money yourself. That way, it will be money that will never go into your checking account and you won’t think of using it.

Your savings will grow not only with your deposits, but with the compounded interest you earn. And the more money you have in there, the more interest you receive.

Cut expenses

Now you just have to spend less in your life so you can gradually add even more money to your savings when you have extra cash left over.

Tips to do this are abundant online, but here are some obvious ones:

  • Cook your lunch instead of buying it at work
  • Cut down on coffee and treats
  • Rent movies instead going to the theatre
  • Eat out less
  • Have beers at home with friends instead of going to the bar
  • Resist buying stuff you can live without
  • Pay your credit card bills fully and on time

If you have too much credit card debt, consolidate them in a low-interest loan, like a line of credit. You’ll be charged less each month.

Multiple benefits

Stay on course and you’ll reach your goal in no time. But not only will you have lots of money put aide, you’ll learn a few things:

How the financial world works.

How to make a financial plan, which will help you in the future.

That you really don’t need to keep buying stuff to be satisfied.

Happy saving.


10 people commented so far
  1. Bel article, excellent pour quelqu’un comme moi qui n’arrive pas à économiser !!!
    Et belle réponse à notre reflexe à tous de dire vous avez de la chance!lol
    Certain que je vais vous suivre dans votre aventure mes amis!
    Bon courage ,on vous regarde;)

    by Daly on 2009.12.30
  2. Dude, I’m considering making my living by giving people this kind of advice. So shhhh… stop giving it away for free! ;-)

    by Fairfax on 2009.12.31
  3. Dear Mr. Fairfax, aka. Andrew “Bullsac” Prevost: My free advice is no match to the personal, attentive service you offer your clients. Therefore, I present no threat to your burgeoning and altruistic financial counseling empire. Andrew Prevost: he smears sunshine on your wealth.

    by Roberto Rocha on 2009.12.31
  4. Pragmatic advice – I wouldn’t have expected anything else from my favourite (shhh) tech reporter.

    I’m excited for you! And thrilled to be able to follow your travels through this fantastic multimedia blog (wow). You’re in my Google Reader, I’m following you on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll have you on my iPod.

    Enjoy the trip! Hope it’s wild and wonderful!
    All the best to you and Bianca.

    by Michelle Sullivan on 2010.01.04
  5. Michelle, those are very humbling words to hear from my second favourite (hee hee) PR gal. Thank you for the encouragement.

    by Roberto Rocha on 2010.01.04
  6. [...] If you dream of traveling the world and are on a tight budget, check out Mojotrotters and read travel journalist Roberto Rocha’s article on how to save money for a round-the-world trip. [...]

  7. Very good advice! I’m not travelling around the world but currently bootstrapping my startup (DokDok) and what you describe is similar to how I can make ends meet until we get enough revenues. You could copy-and-paste this article and only change the intro with a title “How to start a bootstrapped business with no financing or previous exit” :)

    by Bruno Morency on 2010.01.08
  8. [...] a flurry of tweets telling him how lucky he was to have this opportunity. It’s interesting to read his philosophy on how anyone can do this if they just make the necessary sacrifices. It really is that simple. By [...]

  9. HoLa Beto, ok..en la espera de que encuentre el angel (financial adviser) que me va a ayudar a enderezar mis finananzas, quiero decirte que aun asi te considero un chico con suerte.
    Ay! no pero eso si, leerte me hizo ver de frente lo torpe que soy para vivir con lo que gano. No se me da!

    by JaNa on 2010.01.12
  10. That sounds about right. My husband and I (also journalists!) employed a similar strategy while saving up for a six-month around-the-world honeymoon.

    We’ve gotten several comments from people insinuating that we must have trust funds. The best is when my father’s customers comment on how much they honeymoon must’ve cost him. He generally smiles and says, “Not a cent.” It’s really all about the choices you make.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip. We’ve found that the return home, even the job-hunting part, wasn’t all that bad, and we’ve enjoyed re-settling in. We were just looking over some of the photos from the trip today, and we both agree that it was the best money we ever spent!

    by Carolina on 2011.03.01

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