As you know, planning my extended trip around the world (not so sure if I should be calling it “a year around the world” because I’d love to go for much longer than that) is my absolute favorite thing to do right now. I’ve been saving my money since my first week at my job, my first post-college job, which I began at the end of July. At first I was saving $100.00 each week, even though I wasn’t making much money at all. I then became a permanent employee and promoted in November, which bumped up my salary considerably, and I’ve been saving more and more now saving $350.00 every two weeks. (I also invest 3% of my salary in my 401k.)

So far, I’ve only had to dip into my savings twice, back in March when I took the trips to Quebec and Texas within weeks of each other. I took out $300.00 at two different times. At this time, after starting at exactly $16.00 in my savings account (I went to Europe in June on reasons of celebrating graduation, being spontaneous, bonding with my sister, and visiting poor James, who had horrible roommates in Florence), I now, at this moment, have exactly $3,922.16 saved.

If I leave in fall 2009, like I had been planning to for a while, I will keep saving at the rate of $8,000.00 per year (a bit more, actually, but that allows for a few withdrawals if I need to do so). That will give me $24,000.00 by that time. Vagabonders (who, like me, travel light, eat street food and sleep in hostels) advise you to plan on spending $1,000.00 per month in most places, less in India and Southeast Asia, and more in Western Europe. It will altogether cost around $3,000.00 for most of the plane tickets, start-up costs and inoculations. I will also need to save a bundle for student loan payments while on the road.

But if I leave next fall, keeping my promise to myself to only stay in Massachusetts for one more winter, I’ll have about $16,000.00. I could also travel for a while that as well. Not for as long, but I could do it.

Now, I spend a lot of time on the boards at BootsnAll (check my profile out, I’m Adventurous Kate!), especially on the “Around the World and Vagabonding Travel” board. There’s also a board about money, which is definitely one of the hot topics.

People who love travel as much as me spend their time at home working multiple jobs and living miserly existences so they can get back on the road as soon as possible with as much money as possible. I understand why they do that, but I could never do that. I don’t want to be miserable for years for the sake of my travel. If I wanted to that, I would still live at home (grah).

I just try to be frugal — my rent is $500.00, which is the cheapest out of anyone I know in the T-accessible Boston area (except for my friend who had Russian roommates’ friends spying on her in the shower, but she only paid $450.00). I’ve been cutting back on alcohol. I’ve found it’s best just not to go out, period. That will sap you of your cash the fastest. And you know what? I think I’m actually a lot happier without alcohol in my life! That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my wine, but still….

Going off on a tangent here, but I just can’t believe how irresponsible so many people my age are. So many have a ton of credit card debt. Some of them ignored their student loan bills until they started coming in bright orange, reading OPEN NOW, and the interest has skyrocketed. Many ignore the 401k option. Still more don’t save ANYTHING whatsoever.

(Side note: remember that episode of Sex and the City when Carrie’s apartment went co-op and she had to buy it to stay there and she only had $500.00 in checking and $700.00 in savings? Yikes!!)

And the lifestyle — so many people my age spend a few nights a week at the bar. Generally, a girl my age/size would spend around $40.00 on an average night out. Can you imagine how that adds up? Concert tickets add up a lot, as well.

Again, so I live modestly. I buy fresh food and cook. I don’t get takeout at work. I try not to buy clothing too often (with exceptions, like my weakness, DSW shoes, and my new HOTT charcoal gray suit which I’ll wear for the next few years). I don’t have special cable. I don’t drive to work except when I can park for free. I buy food on sale.

I could cut down a bit on fighting the urges to get takeout food after work (like my beloved yes cheese-chicken-rice-NO BEANS-salsa, yes-guacamole-sour cream-hot sauce weekly burrito from Anna’s Taqueria, plus the occasional weekly Starbucks beverage). I also buy books more often than I should, and I have two coupons for Express to use by tomorrow, but I’m not going to use them!!!! THAT is resisting temptation — if I spend $100.00, I’ll save $40.00, but I don’t have $60.00 to spend and especially not put on my Express credit card.

Credit cards are EVIL. I’m trying to get in the habit of using my Amex for only groceries, gas, prescriptions and online purchases. The rest of the time it’s strictly my Visa debit card.

So, anyways, I want to save a lot.

A lot of the people on Bootsnall have savings accounts at ING or HSBC. These two banks are online-only, so without the expenses of operating local branches, they’re able to offer high interest rates. I’ve been researching and have found that both offer decently high rates, considering the state of the economy right now.

ING Savings: Orange Savings Account, 4.50% APY
ING CD (best rate): 9-month CD, 5.25% APY

HSBC Savings: 5.05% APY
ING CD (best rate): 6-month CD, 5.25% APY

Both have minimums of $1,000.00. I think I’d like to invest $2,000.00, leaving another $2,000.00 in my savings account (which will hopefully grow to $6,000.00 in those six months!) that I’ll be able to withdraw if I need to.

To compare that to my interest rate now, I did a little math. My last interest earned was $0.55 when my account was at $3569.82. Multiply that by 12 for an annual return of $6.60, and the percentage you have is:

0.18%.

VERY bad.

Why am I wasting my time with this savings account? Plus, there’s the danger that one of my friends at work made me paranoid about: if someone steals your debit card, they make off with ALL your cash, and you can’t get it back. At least you can get it back with a credit card.

That’s why I no longer use my debit card for online purchases.

All right, so it looks like it’s time to decide. I think I’m going to go with a CD from HSBC for now, worth $2,000.00, since the rates are the same as ING and the six month option will be a good first investment for me.

This is so exciting!!!!

Okay. I’m all applied. I just have to sign it and send it in. My printer’s currently full of papers half-printed and sticking out in various directions, so I’ll do the printing at work.

Money money money money….I’m well on my way to a trip around the world.

I was also looking into TEFL courses in Boston, since having the certificate would make it very easy to teach English as I travel around the world. Who knows — I could turn it into a career!

The thing is, the two most prominent programs (at the Boston Language Institute in Kenmore Square and at TEFL Boston in Downtown Crossing, which is the preferable location for me) are expensive, costing $2,000.00. That’s a big investment, and I’m not sure I want to spend that much at this time. Full-time classes take four weeks of 30 hours a week, and part-time is a full-day class on Saturdays for twelve weeks. I work Tuesday-Saturday — that wouldn’t work.

Plus, if I were to teach long-term, I would start in Korea (the salaries are the highest in the world, the jobs are plentiful, and the cost of living is low), and hagwons don’t require TEFL certificates. (Another thought is that if I had a master’s degree in ANYTHING, I could teach at the university level in Korea or Japan, making enough money to live in Japan, and that would be beyond awesome, especially since college in Japan is widely acknowledged as no work and a giant party before a lifetime of workaholism.)

Why is it that whenever I sit down, I end up writing the lengthiest entries? I’m going to get ready and go into Boston, hanging out at Borders and meeting Dad and Sars for dinner, possibly in Chinatown, where she’s moving very soon….

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