Categories
Traveling

4 Reasons to Travel the World

Traveling is amazing.

Whether you are driving across the country in a van or flying across the Atlantic to explore Europe, trips will make you grow, they will show you the cultures of this world, they make you a better person.

According to a study published in the Hostelworld Global Traveler Report, travel-hungry British traveled on average, to 10 countries, Germans have seen 8, and the French traveled through 5 countries on average. However, Americans are lagging with only 3 countries on average. A surprising 29 percent of American adults have never even left the country! With all the opportunities out there, you almost can’t afford not to travel!

 

Traveling has never been this cheap

Airline deregulation, competition, fuel costs, and fuel efficiency drastically lowered the cost of travel in the past decades. Nowadays, you can fly to most of Europe for about $500 roundtrip or to Asia for under $1,000. This is nowhere near what it once was. Historically, flight prices have dropped by 50% in the last 30 years.

Traveling has never been so affordable!

Not only did the actual price of travel drop considerably but there is now a ton of alternatives to start traveling for free. All major banks are competing for clients and offering compelling welcome bonuses to new credit card clients.

By using these offers properly, you can travel the world nearly for free. Applying for a few cards, reaching the minimum requirements for the bonuses, and stacking up the points can really turn into considerable rewards quickly. With American Express Canada for example, you can get enough rewards to fly from Canada to Mexico with a single welcome bonus. Add up two of those and you can fly to Europe!

 

Find your card today and start earning those SWEET miles!

 

You can even accumulate free hotel stays with cards like the Starwood Prefered Guest card from American Express which offers roughly $1,000 worth of hotel nights depending on the booking.

 

Traveling makes you happier

Traveling with friends and family creates memories for a lifetime. Buying more stuff provides temporary happiness but experiences and memories are for life. When traveling, you tend to see new things and new places that you never saw before like old archeries on the mountain-tops near Florance.

The joy of discovery is an amazing thing. We really enjoy the adventure. We like to explore the lesser-known parts of cities and attractions. Going off the regular tourist route, you can find hidden gems and they are usually a lot cheaper than the tourist traps.

 

Vacation memories We found an old archery club wondering around Italy

 

You get to discover your inner self in travel. Reconnect with yourself and others around you and spend quality time outside of your usual routine. Especially when traveling alone, you get this alone time that you would not have gotten otherwise. Even when traveling as a couple like us, you get to know each other in a whole other way when you spend weeks together 24/7 outside your usual schedule.

 

Cheap travel ideasDon’t be afraid

 

You can find yourself in travel and get to know yourself better. Reconnect with yourself and others around you. Spending quality time outside your usual routine is relaxing. According to one study, three days after taking a trip, travelers reported feeling less anxious, more rested and in a better mood.

These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.

 

Holiday abroadIslands in Laos

 

Another discovery you will encounter is the food. Don’t be shy and satisfy your need to try, taste, and savor. There is so many cultures, so many recipes around this wonderful world, it would be such a waste to restrict your diet to steak and potatoes.

Just from our past travels, we discovered plenty of new tasty dishes we now started to cook at home. We discovered Osso buco alla Milanese in Italy, devoured Pulpo a la gallega in Spain, and gobbled up Frikadellers in Denmark.

 

Why should you travelPulpo a la gallega

 

For us, food plays a major role in our happiness. We like to explore and learn new dishes, new flavors, and new colors. Native dishes allow us to understand their culture even more in-depth. You can feel the work that goes into Italian home-made pasta and hear the chef’s passion in the kitchen when you are there. We enjoy how it inspires creativity and widens our horizons.

 

Plan the perfect vacationBeach and sunset on the coast of Italy

 

Traveling widens our perspective

By discovering the variety of cultures around the world, you get more accepting of others. Meeting new people and seeing how they live is a true eye-opener. If you take the time to eat with the locals, learn their language, and play among them, you will truly get accustomed to their culture. Acceptance goes beyond colors or languages and traveling widens our perspective of the world around us.

Of course, it is easily possible to stay in a resort and have very limited contact with the locals, only eat foods you are used to, and shop in the same shops you could back home. This home away from home travel might not be a culture shock. Not all tips will be life-changing, and that is OK. There are many ways to enjoy a holiday.

 

Cheap travelOur Bahamas trip was in a 5-star resort and that’s perfectly fine

 

If you develop the habit of asking questions, being open-minded, curious and respectful to locals, you will find your travels enriched. Life is often reciprocal in that way.

Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and talk with locals. If you have the luxury of long-term traveling, take the time to learn the language. We did so in Guatemala and never learned so much about a culture so quickly.

In Thailand for example, we were not able to learn Thai but most talked English. Anyone we have talked to was very soft-spoken and unbelievably well-mannered. Everyone was welcoming and happy to talk to us. We learned about them and the area and honestly, the best experiences we can remember of came from references from locals.

 

Travel on a budgetFishermen boats along the coast of Laos

 

Traveling gets us to disconnect

Ever got that feeling when you forget everything about work, any routine, anything in your daily life? Traveling can do this amazing thing where you disconnect from your obligations and everyday life. Not only does this feel great but it is very healthy.

A study from the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who take vacations at least twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression and chronic stress than women who traveled less than once every two years.

Forget about roaming and leave the phone for emergencies only. We all wish to disconnect from our busy lives on vacation but some easy steps can greatly help. Disconnect from social media, leave the work phone at home and enjoy your time off.

 

 

Get out there and travel the world. There is so much to see, so much to learn. We wish you the best and have a safe return. Mr. and Mrs. Xyz.

 

Categories
Saving

How to Build Wealth and Get Rich Slowly

Sometimes, I feel poor.

My bank account has a low balance and I use credit cards for all my purchases.

 

This might be the hard reality of many people living paycheck to paycheck. However, I choose to live like this to optimize my savings and live a better, happier, life. 🙂

 

Optimize your accounts

For example, I do not keep a large balance in my bank account since it pays a whopping 0% in interest. Instead,  I try to optimize my returns by keeping any extra money into a high-yield savings account. I highly suggest you do too, you could be making a few extra hundred dollars simply by keeping your money there instead of your checking account.

I only keep a small buffer in my checking account (roughly $1000) and then use my savings account to pay my monthly credit card bill, mortgage payments, and keep my emergency fund. In terms of emergency fund, I suggest keeping at least 3 months of expenses saved in a savings account.

Some go up to 6 months or a year but this is more of a personal preference and depends greatly on your job stability. The important thing is to keep your money at work and have enough put aside in case of an unplanned event such as a job loss or an unforeseen major car repair.

 

Keep it simple

You can even open different accounts for different goals if you prefer to separate your finances. One account for emergencies, one account for the month-to-month expenses and one for your medium-term goals such as a new purchase you are planning or a vacation fund.

Once your basics are covered and you have a healthy emergency fund saved up, you can invest in low-cost, highly diversified, index funds and let your money grow to achieve your long-term goals. You can see exactly how I invest in my Open Book series.

I sometimes feel poor because my paychecks are very low once they get to my bank account. On top of taxes, I also automatically deduct from my paycheck to fund multiple investment accounts. I start by maxing out my company match plan (10% of my salary) to maximize the 50% match I get. Then I also max out my registered accounts and automatically invest in my preset asset allocation.

 

travel credit card churning

.

Use credit card travel rewards

For my day to day purchases, I always use credit cards to reap the rewards. I optimize my travel rewards by applying to generous “Welcome Bonuses” offered by most banks online or in the branch. Most banks will offer bonuses worth anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars simply to signup to their cards.

You can easily accumulate thousands of dollars worth of travel just by applying. We used our points for our honeymoon and could not be happier.

Flying inside the country can be practically free with points. However, it will not give you the best value for your points compared to international flights.

 

We saved over $800 on our latest trip

For example, flying coast to coast, from Toronto to Vancouver, would save you about $800. This offers a point value of 3.22¢ per Aeroplan. For this example, I am using Aeroplan rewards but the same calculations can be done with any reward program in the US or internationally. (All figures are as of the date of publication and the cheapest flight option was selected)

 

Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $798 $169 $967
Aeroplan.com 25,000 miles $160 $160
Value Of 1 Mile: 3.22 cents Savings: $807

 

To maximize my return on points, I search for the best flights and try to fly business class when available. Here is an example of the costs to fly across the globe, from Canada to Hong Kong and the savings I can achieve by paying with reward points:

 

Flight Cost Taxes & Fees Total Cost
AirCanada.com $6856 $132 $6988
Aeroplan.com 150,000 miles $315 $315
Value Of 1 Mile: 4.44 cents Savings: $6673

 

This is an example of using Aeroplan, which is the main reward program I use here in Canada. If you are in the U.S., there is more flexibility in the programs offered. A quick search into the airlines and hotels reward programs can show you the full potential of using credit cards for your everyday purchases.

Of course, you need to be responsible and always pay the full balance owed each month! You should not spend money you do not have and you should never have to pay credit card interest.

 

Find your card today and start earning those SWEET miles!

.

Know where do you stand?

Using those three main techniques:

  • Keeping your money in an interest-bearing account,
  • Investing automatically in low-cost index funds, and
  • Earning rewards on everyday purchases with credit cards,

you can maximize your money and get ahead in your financial independence journey.  If you start following these and start tracking your net worth then you can clearly see your progress and achievements.

CNN Money has a fun net worth comparison tool you could use to see how you compare to the average American but remember, it is not a race. It is not a matter of being ahead or behind but rather about your personal progress and the concrete steps you are taking to better your financial state.

Under 25 years old have an average net worth of $1,475. 25 to 34 hold $8,525. 35 to 44 stand at $51,575 of net worth. 45 to 54 at $98,350 of net worth. 55 to 64 at $180,125. Finally, 65 and over hold on average $232,000.

 

How to save

 

Comparing to these figures, you can see how you compare to the general population. Obviously, if your goal is to retire early (35 in my case) these figures would need to be greatly accelerated. I aim to retire in 10 years or less with a million dollars. My net worth would then stand 19 times higher than the average for the 35 to 44 years old age group. I’m on the right track!

I wish you the best of luck in your journey and hope I can help along the way. Please ask any questions in the comment section below and I will be more than happy to help. Xyz.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save