How the 52- Week Money Challenge allowed me to travel to three countries in 2016 without going broke

Two years ago, I quit my job to travel the world.

Now, wouldn’t that be such a badass opener? But unfortunately, as much as I want to book a flight and pack my bags, I cannot afford to do so. That is why while I am still preparing for my dream trips, I make short tours to our neighbor countries whenever I can.

What indeed happened when I quit my previous job was that I craved for that proud feeling of going on vacations with my own money. But I am also a bit of an investment freak. Every month- since I started working- I would save specific amounts of money for my Dream Tour, Emergency Fund, Untouchable Fund, Investments, and others. I always want to keep my regular savings unharmed. So, if I cannot afford something, I will not do or buy it. Especially if it involves traveling, which is a lot costlier than my general expenditures.

But I really like to go on adventures, so I am so glad that I tried following some of the money challenge calendars I saw online. In the beginning of 2015, my only goal was to save more money to use in investments. But in the long run, I realized that through discipline and determination, the challenge could take me to places.

I am telling you; I was challenged extremely. But by the end of 2015, I was able to save P180,661.00. P137,800.00 was from the 52- week challenge following a P100.00 increment.

It became very hard to keep up after four months. I had weeks and weeks of delays. Whenever I got extra money aside from my monthly salary, I would feel relieved. I was constantly thinking about delayed gratification. I thought that if I tried my best to save as much as I can, I would be able to enjoy my money better later.

With so many people doing money challenges, I made a slight modification. Unlike others, I did not keep my money in a piggy bank. Whenever I got the chance, I would deposit the money in the bank instead and invest them mainly in stocks and mutual funds. I only kept an Excel file to track where the cash from each savings challenge went. Instead of keeping everything and holding all P137,800.00 in December, I let my money work for me as early as March.

So, 2016 came, and I had P180,661.00 spread on bank, stocks, mutual fund, and UITF accounts. I opted to not to liquidate everything. I kept my investments where they were and split the total money into two. I allocated P90,000.00 for my trips for the rest of the year.

Because of the 52- week challenge, I was able to go to Japan, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Japan was a little easier because I was with my father and he spared me from some of the expenses. But I paid for everything for my Malaysia and Taiwan trips. Both are ten days long. Looking back at all the expenses I have incurred, I realized that I did not even spend P90,000.00 in total. So, I kept the change and carried it over to my 2017 travel fund.

There were some things that I needed to sacrifice (mainly books I resisted to buy whenever I visited bookstores), but it was worth it. By merely saving and traveling, I got to cross a couple of items out of my bucket list this year. And most importantly, I was able to get high of that feeling of independence.

2016 has come to an end, and I was able to complete the same challenge. I even finished daily and monthly challenges. Some of the savings, like the last year, has already been invested while others are still sitting in my bank account. I will be using around 30% of it to fund my travels for 2017, and I have an exciting lineup!

Saving is possible if you are determined. Small amounts can make a huge difference if there is consistency. There are many forms of saving and we just have to find what amount or strategy works well for us depending on our situations. Ultimately, what we do after completing the calendars is what matters. Do we spend our cash on important or useless things?

Some opt to invest everything. Some use the money as down payment for a car or a house. Others buy insurance, a new gadget or home appliance. I chose to split mine for investment and travel fund, and I think I am satisfied with the outcome. I can enjoy my money while letting some of it work for my retirement.

It is so satisfying- to see your money grow from the first week of the challenge until the last. It is also rewarding to know that instead of unconsciously spending your spare on insignigicant things- things that will not be valuable in the next five years- you get to use if for the possessions that really matters.

We may follow Daily, Weekly or Monthly Money Challenges with increments from P1.00 to P100.00, but one thing is for sure—Saving money will get us to places.

 

Update: I have noticed that some of you were discouraged because I followed the P100.00 increment. So, I have included calendars for P50.00, P20.00, P10.00, and P5.00 increments. There is even a Daily Challenge! There are so many savings calendars we can get online (or even design ourselves). It is up to you guys to decide which calendar is the most convenient to follow. You can also do it in reverse so you won't have to worry about setting aside P5,000.00+ every week on December. :)

Happy Saving!