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Traveling While in Debt

Traveling while in debt is possible if you remember three important things. Find out how

Traveling while in debt, is it sensible? When thinking about it from surface level, there appears to be only two options. The first is to be the aggressive saver and the second is to be the minimum payment payer.

When making debt repayment a priority involves the usual getting on a budget, tracking and cutting expenses, and looking for ways to make more money. Traveling and taking vacations is usually one of the big areas done away with.

However, your wanderlust vibe may not need to lay dormant while you finish paying off debt. When I started paying off my student loans, I originally thought travel would have to be put on the back burner. I soon realized it didn’t have to be that way.

While travel is usually costly quest to set out on, with planning and tenacity it can be a possibly while still in debt.


If you have credit card debt, student loan debt, or auto debt, then paying it off in a timely manner is important. If you have high interest debt over 5%, consider a plan of action about how you will pay off more of it

The biggest thing to remember when you want to travel while still in debt is figuring out a way to stay on track with repayment. If you’re making aggressive debt payments every month and don’t have much money left over, the refocus on what type of travel you want to do.

Travel doesn’t have to be a big, expensive thing

You don’t need to stay in high-end hotels and go to popular tourist areas. If you live in the U.S., destinations like Canada, Mexico, and Belize are great options. Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand have hefty plane ticket prices but the costs once there are really inexpensive. Many people are able to travel in Vietnam and Thailand for $30-40 dollars a day. Awesome, right?

Cruises can be another option. I went on two in 2015, one to Mexico and the other to The Bahamas. Lots of free activities and food was provided.

Exploring National Parks and Canyons is something I’ve been wanting to do. I’m a diehard watcher of Parks and Recreation, so Ron Swanson’s love of National Parks rubbed off on me. I’m planning to go on a road trip through Arizona and Utah in the next year or two, visiting The Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Upper Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion!


Have a separate savings account for travel 

Create a separate savings account specifically for your trip. Consider opening a high yield savings account with places like Ally or Synchrony Bank which offer around 1% APY.  It’s better than the 0.01% you are getting at a regular bank.

Remember than every little bit counts. Using automation apps like Digit, which periodically pulls a few dollars from your checking account, is a great way to trick yourself into saving more.

Give yourself a timeline

When I started with my student loan repayment, I gave myself a rough timeline of when I wanted to have a specific amount of money set aside for a trip. I didn’t even know where I wanted to go yet, but I knew it was somewhere!

It took about 15 months of saving, stashing away small amounts of cash, and automating my savings. Eventually I was able to reach my goal and got to take the travel trip I wanted this past March.

While I have been traveling while still making solid progress on my student loan debt, I understand the challenges of wanting to travel while in debt. If money after debt repayment is tight, really try to consider locally exploring to parts of your state or nearby places. Monitor flight deals to see where you can travel to cheap.

With some savvy planning and commitment, you might not have to wait until after you’re debt free to take a trip.

How do you feel about traveling with debt? 


What an Indie Filmmaker Taught Me About Money


Last month I got to attend the South by Southwest 2016 festival. It was awesome and being my second time attending, it felt better this time around than the first. I got to revisit one of my favorite cities, Austin, and attend several interactive panels and film screenings. The big thing making it more enjoyable this time around was that I actually knew more about the panels and what to attend. Plus, I got more knowledgable about all the free things and food being given out this time around! Wooo!

The best thing I got to do was attend a keynote session lead by independent filmmaker Joe Swanberg. He’s really known for being one of the frontrunners of the mumblecore filmmaking movement. A movement centering around ultra-low budget and DIY filmmaking.

Many of the people around me know I have an appreciation for independent “indie” film. Unlike mainstream Hollywood, which churns out superhero, remake, and reboots over and over again, indie film offers a fresh perspective.

Joe Swanberg is most known for his films Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas. A prolific filmmaker, he’s written+directed+produced 20+ films in the last decade. The first film I saw of his was Drinking Buddies and after that I was hooked.

There’s something so great about seeing someone stay scrappy when starting out and having a solid work flow to them. When he got up on the stage at SXSW, the first thing he said was “I want to talk about money, something that people need to start discussing more.”

Money can be an empowering tool 

It amazes me whenever people turn their noses when the topic of money comes up. Money doesn’t buy happiness. I’d rather be broke and happy than have lots of money and be miserable. We’ve all heard the often cited phrases putting down the discussion of money as something crass and not worth the time.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Money management and making money are two important things that need more discussion.

Due to collaborations and discussions with other filmmakers in his niche, Swanberg was able to get a better perspective on industry pay. He mentioned how if he hadn’t had these discussions about money, he wouldn’t have known his monetary worth.

You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate

After pitching and landing a gig producing a web series, Swanberg became more in tune with knowing his worth, understanding the power of his skills, and being able to negotiate good rates for his work. Throughout the run of the series, he kept understanding his worth and negotiating.

“I became aware people were watching this show and I should ask for more money. I was learning to be a negotiator and to stand up for myself and value my work.” 

Pay yourself first+invest in yourself

There’s a guideline rising in popularity in the personal finance world about paying yourself first. Automate your savings and spend what is left after saving, and not the other way around.

This concept was similar to what Swanberg talked about when discussing knowing your worth and investing in yourself.

“The only way you’re ever going to make any money is if you invest in your movies.” 

Aside from mentioning movies, the quote can apply to many different industries. It’s a concept I’ve been growing more into. Many people don’t like spending big amounts of money but if it’s really valuable and you know it will help you, get it, invest in it. This was was I told myself when I contemplated buying an e-course I really wanted. It was worth it!

Don’t half do two things, whole do one thing


Day jobs. Ah, those two words conjure up mixed reactions. Some people are content with their’s while others feel restless with them. The ever so mentioned “9 to 5 day job”. Swanberg had a day job while making his first several films.

The films made money but none of them had been hugely profitable. Like many who have a strong presence in a project outside their 9 to 5, he contemplated how if he just had more time to devote to his films. He wanted to fully engage with the process of being a filmmaker.

“I had a day job when I made my first two movies. Then the realities of traveling the festival circuit with a feature film became so much that I had to decide: do I keep the day job and half engage with the process of being a filmmaker or do I quit the day job and fully engage with the process. I said screw it and and [focused on filmmaking].”

Yes day jobs hold their weight in being able to provide a steady paycheck, but they be something clung to out of desperation. If you have an inking of focusing more on a side project and have figured out different ways to go about making a living then go for it.

Happiness is money

When Swanberg talked about how happiness was money, my brain went around in loops. It was such obvious yet not so obvious advice at the same time. Time is money is the frequently mentioned phrase.

What about happiness and money?

“Time is money but I would also say happiness is money. It’s often not worth the money to take a shitty job on something you hate. Anytime I find myself making money doing something I hate, I fight with my wife more. I’m snippy with my kid. I look back and realize it wasn’t worth the money.” 

When you work and do something you really hate, you’re trading your happiness for money. Yes, I know working the ~~DrEaM job~~ is not always in the cards but don’t settle with staying in a job you hate.

Look for ways to earn income on the side, figure out an exit strategy. Don’t settle. It will cost you some of your happiness.

When In Bangkok…


I’m writing this from a hotel room in Bangkok, Thailand.

Wow, these past few weeks have been a whirlwind. I didn’t think I would take three weeks off from this site but things got busy! Ha ha. The last time I published a post, I was in the midst of attending the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, TX. All day was filled with attending panels and doing activities. There is so much great stuff to do while going to SXSW.

Just a few days after SXSW was over, I went to Portland, Oregon. The state is so freaking beautiful. Oh my gosh. There’s so many breathtaking hikes and views to see. Definitely put Oregon on your list of places to visit for your next getaway.

I was supposed to meet up with another personal finance blogger, Melanie from Dear Debt, while up there, but unfortunately schedules conflicted. Next time!

Just two days after getting back from Oregon, I hopped on a 14+4 hour flights and headed to Bangkok. I’m going to be in Bangkok for the next six months, teaching English. Woo!

Yeah it’s weird and something slightly unexpected. I decided on it back in January of this year. I was driving to work, to a job I was less than happy about, and wondering how to get out. I job searched for a bit but came up frustrated. (finding a decent paying job, that has benefits and is satisfying is like hitting the jackpot).

While job searching, my mind kept trailing back to a TESOL program I had heard about from a travel blogger a while back. I kept thinking about it and eventually applied, thinking “What the heck, it’s not like I’m actually going to do it.”

I had a conversation with one of the coordinators and then put it to the back of my mind. A week later, after another morning of waking up and wondering what was next, it hit me: this is it. Do it. 

And I did.

I applied and got my passport, got a visa to enter Thailand, gathered my documents, bought a one-way ticket, and set off.

Being here now feels weird (in a good way). You see, I was never one of those people who studied abroad or got to spout off all the places they’ve been. Studying abroad was never an option for me. I was always focused on working to pay my bills and get through school.

I would always roll my eyes whenever I would hear other people talking about how studying abroad was a “must” and to “just do it and not worry about the money”. Yeah, right. The study abroad programs were always out of reach for me financially.

When I graduated college and started a full-time job, I thought my time for extended travel was over. I was okay with that. Taking one week trips to places isn’t so bad.

Now, I’m getting to be in a new, unfamiliar, exciting place for six months. Something I never thought was possible. It’s crazy to me that I’m still even able to be here. Yesterday I was looking at inexpensive flights to India, Hong Kong, and other places…and it’s actually a possibility for me to take them!

I’m not some world traveler now. I do have a job teaching English, making a micro-salary (that I’m actually able to somewhat live on). Although, I will have breaks from school and do plan to take as many trips as I can.

In comes this site. I’m going to back at posting financial stuff next week. (back to the routine, yo!). I’m still pondering how I’m going to incorporate my life abroad into the mix. I really want to address some of the financial stuff of traveling and already have some ideas.

Now I just gotta get started!

This post is kinda choppy since I’m writing it at 8am in the morning before I got to training. Starting to carve out a time for writing, though! I look forward to getting back to the routine! 

SXSW 2016: Day 1

everybody wants some

South by Southwest Festival 2016: Friday, March 11.

President Obama Keynote

The lines for Obama were out the door, down the streets, and going on and on. A SXSW lottery was held so regular badge holders could win tickets to the speaking event. Sadly I didn’t win 🙁 I got to watch the live stream though 🙂

It was big news. President Obama was the first sitting president to visit SXSW. Considering the event was held during the Interactive (Technology, Data, Innovation) portion of the festival, a big focus of what Obama talked about was on the way technology is shaping our world.

Obama recognized the importance of embracing new talent and tech developments and how the government should get more involved in adapting tech advancements to better help citizens.

He cited examples including how more simpler and faster process of applying for college financial aid on the FAFSA website and the social security application being made more accessible.

Some depressing figures cited included how the U.S. ranks 31st out of 34 in voter turnout for developed nations.

“It’s easier to order pizza than it is to vote in this country”- President Obama

Obama’s closing remarks were how this country needs it’s citizens to step up, get involved, and look for ways to improve. It was reminiscent of former president JFK’s quote. 

No Tipping. Hospitality Included. 

I was interested a lot in this panel, wondering how a restaurant went about paying their servers more and abolishing tipping. The no-tipping debate has grown in the past year and questions about it have risen. Can restaurants implement no tipping without raising their menu prices surging? Is tipping even constitutional?

Dan Meyer, one of the panelists, owns The Modern in NYC. Since raising server and cook pay and eliminating tipping, the restaurant’s business has surged and become more profitable.

I talked about this with another festival attendee. He informed me of a case on the other end of the spectrum. A restaurant in LA had decided to implement no-tipping back in 2015 and it failed for them.

Joe’s Crab Shack has been experimenting with this. Their servers will start to be paid $12-14 an hour in some of the locations.

Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some

The film called a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused premiered premiered on Friday, March 11th at SXSW. The movie follows a group of college baseball guys in the days leading up to starting the college semester. It made me remember when it was a simpler time 🙂 (the movie takes place in the 80’s).

The line started 3 HOURS before the premiere time. I waited in line for 2.5 hours. It was worth it. First time seeing a film at SXSW!

This first day of SXSW  2016 was awesome! Definite improvement over the last time I came in 2014. Stay tuned for the next few days!

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