In my last post, I talked about how I funded my great adventure. I started by determining approximately how much I would need (in addition to paying for my normal fixed expenses at home) to pay for this great adventure. Part of the process of figuring out how much would be needed was also being able to say to myself as other possible expenses came up, was that expense something I really needed, or did I want to spend that money on something rather than saving for this long experience. So, over the last 10 years, I’ve made a lot of little decisions about what was really important to me. I have known for 20 years that travel and having experiences was more important to me than having a big house or a new car every couple of years. So, I made the choice to live in a nice condo with nice furniture, but something less costly than what I could “afford” to have. And before I left, I sold my 11 year old car with the intention of getting a new car when I return. Each of those major decisions allowed me to save more for the thing that is really important to me – travel and having this great adventure.
Helping my clients determine what is important to them and then figuring out how to pay for that is what we do. It’s helping clients make a savings decision once, and then automating that decision (by having money automatically transferred from their checking to a savings account) so that they know their goal is achievable.
Since for me, part of the joy of an experience is in the planning, I spent a lot of time figuring out where I would like to live. I used a website called HomeAway.com to be able to look at what was available to rent in France. With that site I was able to narrow it down in many ways. I knew that I wanted to be able to have family and friends visit me, so that meant having a place that would sleep five or six. Also, since I knew that several women might be visiting at one time, it was important to have more than one bathroom! Since I also needed to be able to communicate with my office, I needed to have Wifi available. And having traveled in France before, I knew I wanted onsite parking – not having to park on the street maybe 3 blocks away! This website was amazing in that it let me put in criteria to narrow down the choices.
Once I’d narrowed down the choices on the type of home I wanted, I then decided on the region. I had traveled to the very southeastern coast in 1997, the Loire Valley in 2001, and Provence in 2004. When I was on the east coastal region, it was very hilly, so if we knew that someplace was 20 kilometers away, we could figure it would take at least 20 minutes to get there because of small, curvy roads. When I was determining the region, I thought I would be bringing my 10 year old dog with me. Since both of us are at an age where there could be medical emergencies, I felt like I needed to be someplace where I could be 10 minutes from help, not 20 or 30 minutes away. I remembered that near the Loire Valley was much flatter so I started to look in that area. Ultimately, I found a wonderful 1830’s farmhouse that had been lovingly restored over the last few years. The kicker was that the owners were English speakers,and lived right next door (really about 100 meters away, but that is next door in the country!)
Since I had the money saved, and the exchange rate was favorable ($1.14 to the euro), I put down a $10,000 deposit a year ago. That did two things – I knew I had to go on this trip or lose my $10,000, and it also made it imperative that I make sure my office team knew all the things they needed to know to function properly without me
There were a thousand more decisions to make over the last year, but “the die was cast” as Julius Caesar said (at least I think that is who said it!) My great adventure was moving forward.