Are you dreaming of a location independent lifestyle as a Digital Nomad? Save money first! You don’t know how? Don’t worry, in this article, you will get many actionable tips and strategies to gain more financial freedom.
Let’s talk about money
I don’t know anybody personally who doesn’t need money. We’re all more or less dependent on it. Especially if you plan to become a freelancer and travel the world.
Friends and Facebook contacts ask me frequently how I’m able to live abroad without a regular income (yet). Well, I simply can’t answer that question with just one sentence.
My lifestyle change
I started three years ago to change my lifestyle radically. In 2014 I had some debts and loved to “waste” my money on parties in Berlin. I was easily spending 50 Euro in one night.
Funny: When my mindset shifted I spent only 50 Euro cash in one week. That’s of course not the only secret. I had to come up with a well thought out and realistic financial strategy to gain my financial freedom.
What about you? Do you have online skills? Great! But your bank account looks pretty empty? Do you believe you can’t save money because your income is used up quickly? I believe you can.
Why savings matter
Digital Nomads usually finance their lives with the help of a remote job or online business. But most of them don’t just leave their home country – they leave with some savings.
They’re important for multiple reasons. Here is why: You should be able to cover around three months without or just a minimum of income. Think of unexpected illness or an accident, a job loss or other unforeseen circumstances.
Now you may face questions like:
- How do I get rid of debts?
- How long will it take me to save enough money?
- How much savings do I you need exactly?
I will answer your questions. Let’s get started!
Financial Planning and Asset Management
Breakdown and analyze your finances
The very first step to getting control over your money is to look into the details. Basically, it’s about your income and expenses. Take a paper, a word document or an excel chart and track ALL of your monthly expenses.
Start with your FIXED EXPENSES. For example:
- Heating + Electricity
- TV + Internet
- Insurances (health, dental, home, life)
- Public transportation
- Car payments
- Pet care
- Credit card payments
- Subscriptions (Magazines, etc…)
- Memberships (Gym, etc…)
- Debt payments
Now go on with OTHER EXPENSES. For example:
- Household products
- Restaurant bills
- Freetime activities
Be as accurate as possible. If you’re not sure how much money you spend on restaurants or fashion, track your shopping bills for a month. Other than that round up the estimated sums to be on the safe side.
Go on and list your INCOME streams in detail. This could be:
- Wages, Salary, Bonuses
- Interest Income
- Investment Income
- Child support
How much money is left when you subtract all of your monthly expenses from your income? The sum could be your monthly minimum amount of savings.
Nothing is left or you are even into minus on your bank account? Don’t worry. Just go on reading.
The right mindset
I can imagine you’re pretty much amazed by your results from round one. Isn’t it crazy how easily we spend our hard earned money? Sure, there are expenses we just can’t avoid. But many actually can!
Be honest, do you need to eat out every two days, only because you’re too lazy to cook?
Set Financial Priorities
Learn to make a difference between needs and wants. Many things are pure luxuries in my eyes. We talk about an attitude towards money and lifestyle. Don’t be emotional. Be rational. Have your goal in mind when you spend money. Visualize your life in six months, one and five years.
If you want to overcome financial problems and make a good amount of savings, you simply need to set priorities. As long as you’re not rich, you can’t have all at the same time. What is really important in your life?
Analyze your expenses in detail and ask yourself:
- Do I need this?
- Is it bringing me closer towards my goals?
- Can I live without it?
I wasn’t happy with my 40 hour week in Germany (I was frustrated!), but my discipline and income allowed me to make big savings each month.
I told myself every morning: “Kathrin, be grateful. Your job allows you to be free next year and spend three months with your brother!”
This mantra helped me to go on and reach my goal.
Set a deadline
Already in 2014, I knew that I want to quit my job in 2015 to spend three months in China. So, I sat down and calculated how much money I need to be able to afford that long trip.
To cover the time afterwards in Germany (without a job in the worst case), I knew I need even more savings.
My mind shifted completely.
Get rid of debts
Before you’re able to save money for your time as Digital Nomad, better get rid of debts. That should be your first priority. If you start to travel and work abroad with debts, you will get highly stressed when things don’t work out.
In 2014 I had some debts and wanted to pay back all the money. That was a huge goal. But it motivated me like crazy to save as much as I can.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
“A man in debt is so far a slave.”
Change your daily financial habits
Set a limit
Keep control over your money and pay cash, but set a strict monthly, weekly and daily limit.
Avoid running around with a credit card. You easily lose the overview how much you actually spend.
To have a limited amount of cash also avoids impulsive shopping. Suddenly you think twice about your “wants” and “needs”.
Takeaway food and restaurants
Let’s be honest. Most of the time we spend money on a coffee to go and a restaurant visit because we’re lazy, comfortable or unorganized.
I admit, in my first job years I loved to buy a coffee on the go to sleep a bit longer in the morning and I loved to order food on a Sunday to relax more.
You may think, it’s just 1,50 to 2 Euro per coffee, but are you aware how much money you spend in one whole year? Calculate!
Here is a shocking example:
If you buy only one coffee to go on five days per week for 1,50 Euro each – it makes almost 400 Euro in one year! Crazy, right?
Come on, get up 15 minutes earlier and drink your coffee at home.
The same goes for (takeaway) sandwiches and so on…
Here are some quick tips:
- Don’t go shopping when hungry
- Avoid buying brands
- Watch out for offers
- Buy on Saturday evenings and you find many reduced products
- If possible drink water from the tab
If you live in a city, you probably don’t need a car of your own.
What about car sharing and car renting?
Believe it or not, I have no drivers license. I go with the public transport and bike.
Contracts and subscriptions
Downgrade your phone and internet packages, or get rid of it some contracts entirely (Cable TV).
Don’t buy music, use streaming platforms like Spotify which comes with a free option.
Don’t buy paper books, instead buy Ebooks and used books or go to a library.
I even canceled my gym contract and started to do workout and yoga at home with the help of YouTube videos.
Which of those do you really need?
Cancel the ones you can live without and you save a lot of money.
Go through your apartment and think about what you could get rid of. I’m sure you own many things which you don’t use anymore or never used at all.
Sell on eBay! Sell in local Facebook groups!
Read more about decluttering your life in my article MINIMALISM | A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SUCCESS
Be more critical when it comes to new clothes. Watch out for sales! Or buy Second Hand.
Party, cinema, and fancy drinks – all of those activities and habits use up a lot of money. They entertain you quickly, but not more.
Wouldn’t it be better to save that money to be able to quit your 9 to 5 job next year?
If you can’t live without that fun, reduce those acticities and expensive drinks. And, watch out for happy hours and ticket offers on a weekday.
The biggest monthly expense you have is most likely your rent. What about downsizing? Or flat sharing?
You could also sub rent your apartment when you’re on holidays.
That`s a sensitive topic but an important one. If you can’t stop smoking, drinking or gambling – get professional help.
All of those addictions use up your money and in many cases, they’re even leading to debt. Don’t let them destroy your dreams.
Money saving tips from the Wellness Nomads Community
“I normally don’t buy things I don’t need. And don’t order food or visit a restaurant, because it is so much cheaper to cook on your own. Before I buy new stuff I overthink it several times”
“I still have a regular income. That´s why I can put a certain amount on a special saving account, an automatic transfer each month as soon as my salary comes in.”
“My best money saving tip is budgeting… Sometimes it is shocking how much money we spend on unnecessary things. I think we should also do some nice and expensive things, just not too often and we should enjoy it.”
“Buy quality. It’s more expensive but it lasts a lot longer, so it turns out cheaper in the end (and better for the environment!)… Ride a bike. Use sharing possibilities (car, but also food, flat, …). Buy used stuff at flea markets or on eBay. These are my favorites.”
“Only buy clothes if you’re able to get rid of something in your wardrobe instead. Use cash instead of credit card because then you see how much money you waste. Only buy it if you can answer the question with yes: do I really need it?”
“I while ago, I was looking through my insurances. It’s really boring, but you can save so much money if you throw out those you don’t really need. For those remaining, you can look on the internet if there are cheaper offers… If you are buying electronic stuff: Don’t fall for the marketing trick… Think about what functions you really need… Most functions are only a marketing strategy to justify a higher price.”
In order to save money and become a Digital Nomad, you need to:
- Analyze your income and expenses
- Name a clear goal
- Reflect your habits and lifestyle
- Shift your mindset
- Set a deadline
- Reduce your expenses
- Get rid of debts
- Sell not needed possessions
- Stay focused and disciplined
Do you have other money saving tips? Leave a comment below!
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