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Eric and I started out 2020 with a new motto: “every day is an adventure.” To be honest, we already lived by this, but creating a personal motto was our way of committing even more to a life of adventure. The idea was that we would prioritize every day, every action, every plan we had and live fully into that. We would plan as many day trips as possible and we’d promise to fully utilize our corporate vacation days to take extended travel trips around the world. And that’s exactly what we did. We even stepped outside our comfort zone and decided to create a YouTube channel to log our adventures. I transitioned my minimalist fashion blog into travel journals and started writing travel tip articles. By the end of February we had the next 12 weeks planned out, every weekend a different location, each perfectly mapped out to create beautiful and entertaining videos to post later. Then COVID-19 hit.
We’re living in weird times. Instead of living out our carefully curated travel plans, Eric and I have spent the last two and a half months self-isolating in our tiny New Jersey apartment, avoiding public places and people at all costs. Our “every day is an adventure” motto became a little ironic, as now our adventures look more like prepping our face masks to go check the mail and spending hours refreshing InstaCart in hopes of securing a brave volunteer to do our grocery shopping. Like I said, weird times.
Despite what some bonkers conspiracy theories say, we never could have predicted that we’d be in this scenario; but now that we are, it’s time to make the best of it. Afterall, every day should be an adventure! We have been doing plenty to keep ourselves busy, and most of it consists of working out our plans for when we can travel again. Here’s a look into how we’ve been using this time as a propellant for future travel:
Travel research takes up so much of our time. This is partly because we enjoy it, but it’s also because it can be really labor intensive. Plus when we travel, we want to have the best experience, which means making sure we truly understand what we're getting into. Almost every Saturday is spent on the couch doing research and whiteboarding future trips. Okay.. so that isn’t much different from any other Saturday pre-COVID, but at least now we don’t have to feel bad about it!
Saving Where it Counts
We’re taking advantage of having fewer expenses (gym memberships, restaurants, activities, travel) and building up our future travel fund. Living in this world has also forced us to re-evaluate our expenses and question what is truly “essential.” I’ve always considered myself to be minimal, but I’ve realized during this time that there’s opportunity to cut back even more. I’ve been able to separate what truly brings me value, while realizing I don’t miss some things I used to really enjoy. For example, I can’t wait to have our Sunday morning coffee shop dates back and don’t mind spending $6 on a decaf latte, but I probably don’t need to do a “walk through” at Target every weekend. To be honest, buying clothes is something I haven’t missed at all and I’m still surprised by that! I’m thankful to have had this time to reflect on what is essential in my life so I can continue to cut expenses once the world starts to open up again.
Spending Where it Counts
Cutting expenses and smart spending go hand in hand! So even though I’ve been cutting expenses on non-essential things, I’ve also been learning how to maximize the value of the money I do spend. There are so many ways to do this, and you likely already participate in some type of smart spending practices whether you know it or not. Some of the most common smart spending practices:
Using a cash back credit card
Using a travel rewards credit card
If you aren’t doing any of these 3, you need to re-evaluate the way you spend money! If you already do some of these, it’s time to fully understand how to maximize your benefits. Smart spending is spending where it counts, or in other words, spending in the areas where you will get the most return. The best (and worst) part about smart spending? There’s no one way to do this best - it’s 100% dependent on your personal expenses and the ways that you manage your money.
For me, smart spending has looked like utilizing 5x point redemption on groceries, getting reimbursed for my DoorDash orders, and getting free delivery from my favorite restaurants (thanks, Chase Sapphire Reserve)! I also strategically choose which restaurants to order from based on those that get me higher status (shoutout to the United MileagePlus Dining program!). If you can’t tell, food is pretty much our only expense right now so we’re making sure we are getting rewards wherever possible. I’m thinking of doing a full post on smart spending, let me know below if you have any questions you’d like covered!
This is going to sound super cheesy, but there’s nothing like being “stuck” at home to show you what really matters. If this hasn’t occurred naturally for you, take a moment to stop and think about what you miss most. Try to push past vague or material things like “travel” or “Starbucks.” Dig deep to find what you’ve been missing during this time of isolation. The more you think on this, the closer you get to identifying your core values. But don’t stop there, use those feelings to shape what you want to do in the future. I can’t share too much yet on what our future looks like, but I can tell you it’s pretty drastically different than the life we lived before COVID and it’ll be centered around family, travel, and having more amazing adventures.
What are your goals for post-COVID living? Are you able to do anything today that helps you get there? What every adventures are you living?