By: The Bucket List Family November 07, 2017
We at Thrivent Mutual Funds appreciate Movers and Savers like The Bucket List Family. Those who dare to live out their passions. Who find ways both physically and financially to follow their hearts and ambitions. Whose way to the top is anything but conventional. And we do everything we can to help people like them live their way, any way we can.
Two years ago we were at a crossroads. We were finishing up at Brigham Young University when Garrett started a company with two classmates called Scan. Long story short, they sold the company for a large sum of money and at a young age were blessed, financially. The money came into our lives very quickly and we knew if we weren’t smart, it’d be gone just as fast. We put everything in savings and invested it.
We also felt that settling down and buying a house wasn’t right for us. We wanted to learn about ourselves and the world–so we decided to travel. But instead of dipping into our “Scan” money, we decided to sell everything we owned–which gave us about $45k to get going. And that’s how it began.
Initially, the plan was to travel for five months around the South Pacific. When we returned home we had to decide whether to settle down or keep traveling–we decided to travel. 26 months and 45 countries later, we’re still going.
When the $45k from selling our stuff was running low, we discovered our social media audience began to grow. And found that we could promote hotels, airlines and brands along our travels in exchange for free stays, activities or flights. Our family vacations became a full-time job.
"The money came into our lives very quickly and we knew if we weren’t smart, it’d be gone just as fast."
Travel means so much more to me now than it did two years ago. It used to be a vacation-an escape from life. Now, it’s a way to experience life. Each place we visit is an opportunity to see how beautiful the earth is and the creatures that are a part of it. And we get it do it, now as a family of four.
Planning Our Travels.
When we first set off to travel, we each had things on our Bucket List that we wanted to do. Garrett wanted to swim with the whales in Tonga. Jessica, the Lantern Festival in Thailand. We planned our travel around the South Pacific to cross off those Bucket List items–with some other incredible stops along the way, like Bali, Singapore and Fiji.
Now we’re traveling to new places almost every week. It’s a full-time job organizing flights, rental cars, accommodations and activities week after week. And we’re very mindful of our budget–so we’re always leveraging our skills to choose our next adventure.
"We’re very mindful of our budget—so we’re always leveraging our skills to choose our next adventure."
Preparing for Our Financial Future.
We don’t feel very financially-minded. We don’t know the ins and outs of the stock market. We’re not risk takers. But we do know that saving, investing, and diversifying is essential. The money we made from the acquisition of Scan is invested in a way that matches our risk tolerance. So it’s invested until we are ready to buy a home and settle down.
Budgeting on the Road.
Our budget for each week is different. After all, some countries are more expensive than others. And while we have savings to fall back on, we do have a few tools and tips that we use to help us save on our travels:
- Google Flights: Where we book the majority of our flights. It allows you to see price changes based on a bunch of factors.
- Also, some domestic airlines don't share rates with sites like Google, Expedia, or Kayak. In the states, Southwest Airlines isn't listed, and often have some of the best prices.
- Scott Keyes: A great email membership that alerts you to amazing flight deals.
- Airbnb: One of our favorite ways to travel. Not paying hotel and resort prices for food, parking, and activities can save you a lot. Plus, it gives you a "local" experience.
- Take advantage of big sales (Labor Day, Black Friday, etc.).
- Follow airlines, hotels, resorts, cruise lines, etc. on social media. They often post really great deals.
Our Family Priorities.
As a couple, our spending priorities reflect some of our personal values. We spend money on health, personal development and family experiences–like spending money on a gym wherever we are. It’s something that’s important to us.
At the beginning of each month, we thoughtfully and prayerfully decide whom we can help. Sometimes, our service is well planned out. I’ll find a school, orphanage, youth soccer team, etc. Other times, we help individuals like a waitress, hotel staff member, or even a friend back home.
Our next few stops are in Europe - Ireland, France and Belgium - until returning home for the holidays. In early 2018 we’re expecting baby #3, so we plan to slow down our travels.
2018 will bring some more stability for us and our kids. We plan to buy a house that can be “home base.” We’re a little nervous about making this leap financially, but we remind ourselves that owning property is another great way to diversify our investments.
"We don’t know the ins and outs of the stock market. We’re not risk takers. But we do know that saving, investing and diversifying is essential."
Advice for Fellow Travelers.
Everyone can (and should, in our opinion) travel! It’s all about setting goals and making them a priority. Talk to people who can help, learn new skills to get you where you need to go and make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen.