How can I even?

My best friend moved to Ireland 2 years ago. 

I'm in .au

I have 1 income, 1 mortgage, 1 partner, and 2 kids. How the heck do I even consider getting enough cash together to fund flights across the globe, and all the guff that goes with international travel!?

As soon as I start estimating airfares, I'm lost...

Does anyone have any idea how to make international travel from a distant land palatable, that I can execute in the next couple of years?

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  • I can't speak to an worldwind trip, but I can share some things that have helped my family with being able to afford things that we'd never thought possible.  Here's my situation, 1 income, 1 mortgage, 1 carloan, 1 student loan, 1 wife, 3 kids.

    The first thing we did was set up funding goals for all our important categories, and then compared those against an accurate estimate of our monthly income. I get paid on a biweekly basis, so we used 2 paychecks, because that is all that we will reliably have each  month. Then we rounded the figure down to the hundreds place.

    We have a big family trip coming up in August and we've been saving for it since last August. We set up a wish-farm category with the total estimated cost of everything for the trip (rounded up of course) as the goal, and the due date for the month before the trip. That gave us the monthly amount we needed to save for it.  And we made sure to include this when totalling our budget goals

    Unfortunately for us, we discovered that our goal was several hundred dollars above our cashflow. We hadn't recognized it before because category goals gradually had crept up.  After this we looked at every category from the top down and asked ourselves if we could become more frugal, or even eliminate things like subscription services.  After that sobering look we were able to reign all our categories and eliminate wasteful/unnecessary spending. They are now a couple hundred less than our income.

    It was sobering and some of it was painful, but after a month we realized that we are just as happy, maybe more, being more frugal. And the benefit of that all is that we now have a clear goal for the big trip and the monthly budget needed for it is much easier to swallow.

    I did some quick back-of-the-envelope estimating, airfare for 4 from Australia to Ireland is probably about USD 5,000.  Assuming you'll stay with your friend, adding on 300 for groceries, and 800 for excursions. Gives a rough target of USD 6,100.  Spread that out across 2 years and it is about USD 250 each month.

    Our family did the big budget realignment I described above a couple months ago, and in full honestly I don't even remember what we were spending all that extra money on, so we're clearly not missing it. :)  We were surprised how easy it was to adjust after the initial discomfort of budget belt tightening.

    Reply Like 2
  • You do it one month at a time.  

    I've been using Ynab (YNAB4 to be precise) since Feb. 2015.  We are also a one income family, 5 kids, and had 3 (!) in college at the same time when we started.  We had (and still have) a car replacement category.    It was actually a lesser priority than nearly every other category we had, so it got only a little  $ (anywhere between 0 to 100) every month, with an occasional "Oh, a mini-windfall!" addition (like some of our tax refund).  

    I was shocked when I checked the category  the other day after a conversation with my spouse and discovered that we have nearly $6000 in that category now.  I was so sure that was a mistake-- that I must have accidentally put some $ in that category that was really for another one--- that I went back through every single month.  And no, I hadn't made any such error.  The truth is that little bit of $ faithfully put by every month (and not raided!) really, truly did add up to a substantial amount.  Eye-opening, to be sure.

    I don't think our situation is unique; just make a category and start adding what you can.  You *will* be able to hop on the plane a couple of years from now.

    Reply Like 7
    • VickiS Hagermaniac You're both absolutely right, thank you.

      I get there one month at a time, dollar by dollar, and pay attention to my priorities.

      It's all so obvious, but so hard to see when I'm looking at the whole amount at once, and getting weighed down by the emotion tied up in it.

      Imagine if I'd started saving when he left, or even better, when he said he was going to go. I'd be there already by now. ugh.

      Thanks both :)

      Reply Like 3
    • The Late Heavy Bombardment Slow and steady is definitely the way to go! But I think you'll be there sooner than you think, especially if you're able to evaluate purchases through the lens of "Would I rather put this money towards my trip?"--I've found that to be very powerful. I hope you keep posting here so we can see photos of your trip when you get to go!

      Reply Like 2
  • Your friend is the one who moved. Your friend should make return visits to you. It shouldn't be your burden.

    Reply Like 1
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 5 days ago
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      nolesrule Or share the cost.

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    • nolesrule You must be great fun at parties ;)

      Reply Like 1
      • Elle Jay
      • Ellejay
      • 3 days ago
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      nolesrule Nice to completely ignore any agency on behalf of the OP and assume that she's doing because of a need not a want..

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 days ago
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      Elle Jay OP didn't really seem very enthusiastic about the trip. Perhaps one needs to assess priorities to decide whether it is really worth it in the first place. Traveling as a family is expensive, even if it's only 2-3 time zones and not half way around the world.

      I've had close friends that have moved away. We don't go out of our way to make trips to see them, but if we can find multiple reasons to be in the area, we will include visiting them as one of the reasons to travel.

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      • nolesrule
      • YNAB4 Evangelist
      • nolesrule
      • 3 days ago
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      The Late Heavy Bombardment Making difficult decisions about your personal finances is part of succeeding.

      Reply Like 3
    • HappyDance
    • YNABing consistently since 2014
    • HappyDance
    • 4 days ago
    • 4
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    Chrissy said:
    The Late Heavy Bombardment  Slow and steady is definitely the way to go! But I think you'll be there sooner than you think, especially if you're able to evaluate purchases through the lens of "Would I rather put this money towards my trip?"--I've found that to be very powerful. (snip)

     Want to add my emphasis to what Chrissy  posted  here.  It is exactly what I discovered myself, much to my astonished surprise.  After 4+ years of using YNAB I can summarize my progress as miraculous.  When I add up all the funds I used to live on, eliminate debt, help a relative in crisis, buy a car, build up a 7-month emergency fund, invest for retirement, and make some big necessary infrequent purchases, the numbers seem to exceed my income entirely.  I would not have guessed I would come this far this fast.  There really is something quite special that happens when you keep all your categories in front of your face all the time. You start adjusting your spending behaviours and tucking a few dollars into those special categories.   Those far-off-in-the-future wishes don't get forgotten in the daily day-to-day spending because you choose to include them in your category list. 

    Reply Like 4
  • Thanks all for the support, and optimism. 

    It's weird - we don't struggle at all, but we live paycheck to paycheck. When a big bill comes in, we don't struggle to pay it, but we're always at empty by the next payday. But now that I'm starting to actually look ahead at when those big bills are coming and planning for them, and thinking about savings goals, I'm suddenly aware of how much there is, and it's quite overwhelming.

    I'm hanging on to the optimistic hope that I'll soon get myself into a cycle where I can budget for the next month, rather than the current paycheck, and then things will hopefully start to look nicer.

    Reply Like 1
      • VickiS
      • VickiS
      • 3 days ago
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      The Late Heavy Bombardment 

      Oh, you will.   HappyDance said it well:  There really is something quite special that happens when you keep all your categories in front of your face all the time. 

      I, too, am absolutely flabbergasted at how fast our financial situation has improved--and we weren't in debt or struggling to pay bills--just living on a single, ministerial income (so small-ish bucket) and I could never see quite how we were juggling it all and feeling on the edge all the time.  

      With focus, we've gotten 5 children through university, helped struggling relatives, gone on vacations, begun building retirement accounts, splurged on the occasional  indulgence, and seen a steady increase in our net worth.  

      I think you've made a good beginning--keep going and you'll be there sooner than you think.

      Reply Like 2
      • Ben
      • Toolkit for YNAB Designer & Developer
      • furiousfalcon
      • 3 days ago
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      The Late Heavy Bombardment There is definitely a period of feeling "YNAB poor" as you first get started, where you get a little overwhelmed about all the upcoming expenses / debts / savings goals. Stick with it! It does get easier over time.

      The process of facing your financial situation and laying everything out might be stressful initially, but I think you'll find that having a plan and sticking with it greatly decreases your financial stress long term.

      Reply Like 3
    • HappyDance
    • YNABing consistently since 2014
    • HappyDance
    • 3 days ago
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    nolesrule said:
    I've had close friends that have moved away. We don't go out of our way to make trips to see them, but if we can find multiple reasons to be in the area, we will include visiting them as one of the reasons to travel.

     Been there.  I've got relatives who live on the eastern end of Canada, and they seem to think that airplanes don't travel west, or perhaps it's cheaper for us to travel than for them. "It's cheaper to vacation in Florida or Jamaica than to fly to western Canada," they say and this is intended to excuse them from attending any family events in the west.  Perhaps they don't realize it's equally cheaper for the family in western Canada to go to Hawaii than to fly to eastern Canada.  The onus has always been on the western relatives to travel east for all family events, but for the eastern relatives to be excused due to cost.

    One idea comes to mind, however, and that is for both the OP and the friend living in Ireland to meet halfway for vacation:  there must be some mutually attractive destination vacations in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Dubai, India........  Assuming that meeting up again is of equal importance to both people and not only to the Australian-based friend.

    Reply Like 2
  • Hi all. 

    You're all so sweet, thank you.

    I'm not upset or bothered by any of the comments here - nolesrule is one of the voices I read here that really challenges me to think about how I think about money. I am really grateful for being pushed to re-analyse it all.

    And you're all absolutely right that this is about Priorities and Difficult Decisions. Such is life.

    I've been using YNAB for almost 8 weeks now, and we've already gone from spending every dollar of the paycheck to having $2,500 aside for some of my True Expenses, and general Buffers (MRI's, gifts, home maintenance, etc) without losing any quality of life (which makes me shudder to think how much we usually fritter away).

    So all in all, we're doing well, it's just that there's still a lot that's not getting funded, and Ireland is on that second list :(

    But that's priorities - school fees, car servicing, medical expenses, and being prepared to replace the hot water service are all more important to get right first.

    Check back on me in a few months, and hopefully we'll be closer to knowing what we can really achieve.

    Reply Like 5
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 2 days ago
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      The Late Heavy Bombardment 

      once you get past having to pay a full annual expense with only a couple months (or less) to save for it & can put 1/12 away each month for a few of those things, you will be amazed at how far your income can stretch!

      Reply Like 2
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