Home ownership can be a rewarding experience, from not having to answer to a landlord to turning a big part of your living expenses into an actual investment. And knowing that your rigorous savings efforts have finally resulted in an ample down payment is an unquestionably satisfying feeling. But before you start shopping for your new home, consider the following: To be financially ready for home ownership, you need more than just that initial 20% payment at closing. Here’s an overview of the savings you should have in place before you go from renting to buying.
An emergency fund
Before you sign that contract, make sure you have an emergency fund to pay for a full six months of expenses in the event that you’re unable to work. This fund should cover essentials like your expected mortgage payment, real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, car payment, groceries, medical costs (including insurance), utilities, and property maintenance.
A home repairs fund
No matter the age of your new home, expect to face both short-term and long-term repairs. Something as simple as a leaky pipe or faucet – which can happen out of nowhere – can cost you a few hundred dollars unexpectedly. And larger jobs, like roofing or heating system repairs, can easily exceed the $1,000-mark. Before you buy, set some money aside in a home repairs fund so you’re not caught off guard or forced to take out a loan.
Money for closing costs
Though you may be able to roll your closing costs into your mortgage (spreading them out into manageable payments), not every lender employs this practice. To be safe, put some money aside to cover your closing costs, which are typically 2%-5% of a home’s purchase price. That means if you’re buying a $300,000 home, you’ll need an additional $6,000 to $15,000 up-front to complete your real estate transaction.
A moving expenses fund
Unless you have a shockingly small amount to transport, there’s a good chance you’ll need to rent a moving truck or even hire professional movers to help you relocate to your new home. Truck costs vary with size and company, and remember you'll be responsible for fuel. Professional movers can cost around $100 per hour for fairly local move (meaning, from a city to a nearby suburb), although this price could go up for heavy furniture and extra manpower. And while some local moves are completed in less than half a day’s time, others can take eight hours or longer.
A down payment for a car
If you’re moving from a city to the suburbs, you’ll most likely need a car to go along with your new home. While you can opt for a used vehicle to lower this expense, be warned that you’ll probably wind up spending more on maintenance than you would with a new car. In 2012, the average down payment for a car was $3,435, so plan accordingly, and remember to factor your auto loan payments into your monthly budget.
If you’re expecting a child, you’ve likely been told the whole business is expensive – about $245,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some baby expenses are obvious, but others might surprise you. Check out these basic – and yet overlooked – items that should be included your budget.
You want the best for your child, including and starting with what you feed them. Whether you sought out organic and natural options before parenthood, you might shell out the extra cash for high quality food once you have children. If you work, have multiple kids, or are otherwise strapped for time, you will also shell out for more expensive snacks and foods that can be taken on the road. And do you think small people have small stomachs? Wait until your one-year-old hits a growth spurt and downs an entire steak or your skinny two-year-old demolishes a meal from the adult menu during your next night out (true story). Before you panic, check out these 14 tips to trim food bill costs from family experts.
If you think education is something you don’t have to worry about until college, think again – many parents shell out thousands for preschools, on top what they spent during the first three years of childcare. There isn’t a clear-cut way around this expense, but remember to take the cost of local schools into account when you buy a home or move. Creative professional solutions, such as telecommuting a few days a week or becoming a stay-at-home parent, may also help your family balance the budget. Your income may shrink, but so do childcare costs and bills for everything from dry cleaning to gas-guzzling commutes.
The ranch hat. The beach sunglasses. The shoes. Turns out little people need just as many accessories as adults do. Yes, need ¬– they, too, can be fair-skinned, tender-footed, or have sensitive eyes. Parents talk all day about finding the basics of baby’s wardrobe, but they sure don’t tell you how much it’s going to cost to outfit your baby for your lifestyle.
Lessons, camps, sports, and activities are increasingly expensive. Did you know that friends are, too? As the world becomes more dangerous, kids spend time with friends on planned (pricey) outings, not during (literally) free time in the neighborhood cul-de-sac. Even birthdays have become a source of expenditure. It is easy to spend hundreds, if not thousands each year. Keep costs low by gathering at free locations with built-in entertainment, such as parks or beaches, that don’t get expensive for large groups. Send email invitations, and offer a few snacks and a cake instead of a full lunch or dinner.
Wondering where that $50 disappears to each month? Why, it goes toward your "breakables" – you know, the cost of the things your child destroys during any given day, like the hand lotion they dump out, the glass they drop, the blouse they cover in marker, the rolls of paper towels that they shred, the nice makeup brush they dump in the pet water, the book they leaf through with sticky banana-covered hands. Because children do not become more graceful as they age, this is not a tab that will close any time soon. We don’t know how much it’s going to cost you, but guaranteed – you’re going to pay.
The good news: There are limitless ways to cut expenses. The tricky bit: finding what works best for your family. From raising diaper-free infants to picking up work on the side, parents are making it work.
What may surprise you most is how much you enjoy spending money on your child. Being a parent means you will trade $5 any day for the grin on that face when presented with a new book, toy, treat, or experience. Remember to buy gifts in bulk during peak sale times, reward with your time and attention instead of material goods, model savvy financial management for older kids, and you’ll do just fine.
Remember the Beatle's hit "All You Need is Love?" A good song, but it's not true. When two people love each other and want to get married, they also need a mutual understanding about personal finances. After all, finances are the leading cause of divorce, according to Examiner.com. Communication before commitment helps prevent a trip to divorce court.
Whose money is it, anyway?
Is money mine and yours or ours? How each of you view ownership might make or break your marriage. Whether you live in a community property state also makes a difference.
The legal definition of "community property" is, in plain English: "All earnings during marriage... are owned in common and all debts incurred during marriage are the responsibility of both spouses," according to Nolo.com.
If you live in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin, assets and debts acquired during marriage are legally shared.
It's not uncommon for one spouse to earn more than the other. This may breed resentment or jealousy. Are you and your partner willing to put all earnings into a joint account and discuss expenditures before making a purchase? If not, how much does each spouse get to hold out for individual use?
Spending habits cause conflict
When both partners like to spend, neither one sees a problem until they are sinking in debt. Marriage problems that lead to divorce surface when neither spouse is willing to curb his or her own spending. When people get a sense of identity from their purchases, overspending is a difficult habit to break.
The opposite of overspending is underspending and hoarding, filling a basement with things he "might need someday." Underspenders are seldom concerned with luxury. If you like new furniture, you will have a conflict with a partner who prefers to make do with old things.
Discuss spending habits with your future spouse. Most people's spending behavior falls on a continuum between overspending and hoarding. Take an honest look at how your spending habits are similar and different. Working toward common goals, such as a vacation or saving for your child's college tuition, may help keep you both on track.
When children enter the mix
You already discussed having children, and you both are looking forward to having a family – but you have a lot more to talk about. There are fundamental questions that too many couples do not discuss before getting pregnant.
Affording the baby goes beyond saving up for a nursery and some time off from work. Who will take care of the baby when family leave is used up? If one parent stays home, there is less income. After you factor in the cost of daycare, you may be just as well off financially staying home.
Discuss the importance of education. Some couples move to an area with a reputation for good public schools. Others prefer paying for private schools. College is another expense with which some parents want to help their children. That means more saving or planning and sacrifice while those children are growing up. Do you and your betrothed feel the same way about these issues?
The key in discussing money issues with your partner is to have a mutual understanding about your attitudes toward money, your common goals, and how you both plan to reach them. Open and honest communication now may save you expensive heartbreak later.
Times change. And then again, they don't. Not really, because after all is said in done in American romance and its evolving iterations, breaking up is still hard to do.
Back in the day, or so I'm told by those in "The Greatest Generation" you got married young and stayed together for life, no matter how much you wanted to kill each other. But divorces soon increased anyway. As my parents and other boomers of the '50s and '60s grew older, "Children of Divorce" (like me and virtually everyone I knew) became "a thing." Anyone who experienced joint custody, unpaid child support, step parents, and then ex-step parents understood the difficulties of breaking up.
You'd think that as the social stigma of unwed mothers, single parents, and living together all faded, the breaking up part would get easier. Though a divorce attorney is no longer required, parting ways is still – surprisingly perhaps – much tougher to do than one might expect.
A Rent.com survey of 1,000 unmarried couples living together found that 62% stayed for more than a month or longer even after the "it's not you, it's me" speech. More than half said finding new housing was the hardest part. A third said they stayed around simply because finding and paying for a new place was tough. Thankfully, plenty of advice exists for extracting yourself and your stuff as peacefully – and quickly – as possible.
Have that awkward pre-nuptial financial agreement talks before even moving in together. Lay out some basics of who owns what, how expenses are shared, and who gets the place if the social love experiment fails. As for those already shacking up, it's not too late. Designate a day to "clarify." Just don't plan it for Valentine's Day.
Rainy day fund
If there is one thing to keep separate, it's a savings account. Moving is never cheap. Deposits, new purchases, rental vans, pizza, and beverages for the reluctant movers you call friends – you name it, it all costs. Insist savings be kept separate from the start. If you are already living with someone, it's a good thing to discuss your savings goals now. The very idea of living together denotes a more experimental phase than marriage (despite half of those suckers circling the drain, the illusion of permanence still exists), so a clear talk about security is a sign of maturity and health – not doubt of your true love.
According to the Rent.com survey, more than half said splitting the stuff was actually more difficult than splitting the cash (likely because there is far more of the former and less of the latter). From the start, it's a good idea to store rather than purge when two people merge. If that box of old books and those treasured mementos and the recliner she said was too ugly all find a nice private place to stay, moving out day will at least be quicker, if not less painful.
Be your best self
With so many raw nerves exposed, a break up will go better if conducted civilly until the hard work of relocating, dividing, and reclaiming your single life is done. Kindness, compromise, and healthy boundaries are critical at times like these, which requires you to channel your inner Gandhi when you may well feel like Gordon Ramsey
In the end the best advice is often the simplest. Think of the old Band Aid and rip. I'm not sure a "clean" break-up exists, but the more it resembles a scalpel rather than a butter knife, the sooner you'll find the road to recovery on your own again.
Whether you live together or like to frequently eat together at home, your partner’s eating habits will have an impact on your weekly grocery bill. From following specialty and health-related diets to having preferences for healthy or ready-made foods, eating habits abound, and with grocery bills consistently on the rise these days, they can become a financial burden if you’re not careful. Here are some eating habits you may face and how you can save money with the foods you serve your partner. After all, you're buying for two. Sometimes that saves save. Sometimes it makes things more complicated.
Organic, grass-fed, and all-natural foods
Eating organic, grass-fed, and all-natural foods is becoming more common, and unfortunately, these types of food are often more expensive, particularly when it comes to specialty items. Research what foods do and do not need to be bought organic, such as the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, cut coupons, and shop smart. My family is on an organic and grass-fed diet, and we find deals for grass-fed buffalo online and shop for organic produce that’s on sale.
All specialty diets call for certain foods to avoid and others to include regularly. Veganism, raw foods, Paleo, low-carb – the list goes on. Take the time to get to know your partner’s chosen diet, and find the right ingredients and alternatives to keep him or her on track. At my house, we are on an 80-20 Paleo diet, so we buy a ton of vegetables (on sale) and try to eat several servings a day, such as a salad for lunch and one or two vegetables with every breakfast and dinner.
If your partner is gluten-intolerant, has celiac disease ,or is going gluten-free for other reasons, adjusting your diet can get costly if you don’t have a plan. More gluten-free foods are making it to the shelves, but they often come at a price. Instead of paying a boatload for specialty GF processed foods, like cookies, pastas, and cereals, figure out what foods are naturally gluten-free. Use raw foods to make meals from scratch to control what ingredients go into your dishes and snacks without having to spend more on gluten-free labeled products.
Some people simply don't like or do not have time to cook. They tend to favor going out to eat, ordering take-out, or having quick, ready-to-make meals at their disposal. In terms of price, these types of foods can go either way. Sometimes they are less expensive, but if they are health-conscious, they can get pricey very quickly. Cook in large batches for extra of leftovers your partner can quickly reheat for an easy lunch or dinner.
Eating habits can add up on your grocery bill, but you have options for getting around it if you know what foods to look for. Have a talk with your partner about his or her eating preferences, and do your research to keep your grocery bills manageable.
Considering how deeply we, as a nation, are in financial distress (the American federal, state and local debt rests at $17,651,845,933,132.44, as of August 8, 2014), you would think we, as individuals, would respond better to the singular experience. Despite literature abound on the subject of controlling wayward finances, many Americans still struggle with the emotional and physical ramifications of being in the red. From headaches to substance abuse to suicide, citizens suffering from long-term financial instability can look forward to a steady incline of stress manifestations in mind and body. The bitterly ironic aspect of your body's response to money problems is that, in the long run, they will cost you more cash and more stress; it's a sick cycle of being sick about money.
You're not alone in experiencing wallet-related discomfort or illnesses. Only 28% of Americans claim they are financially fit, according to the Financial Well-Being Index report by The Principle. In a survey on financial stress, New York Life reported 73% of respondents experienced financial stress on a daily basis. Of that, 25% reported feeling extremely stressed. Only half of the survey-takers considered their economic situation to be 'good.' More money would seem like an easy fix to those problems, right? According to the survey, that's not the case: More than a quarter of respondents who earned more than $100,000 a year reported feeling highly stressed. Back that up with the Federal Reserve's 2013 survey claiming that 25% of families were "just getting by," and 13% said they were struggling to do so. Misery loves company, after all.
Escaping a financial crisis unscathed is made all the harder by your gender. According to the New York Life survey, women feel financial stress more acutely than men and are more likely to bring that stress with them into the workplace. A study by the American Sociological Association found a woman's most common response to financial stress is extreme anxiety. Men, however, are prone to alcohol abuse during financial crises.
Irritability, inexplicable anger, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, sleeplessness, depression, eating disorders, headaches, muscle tension, altered sex drive, social withdrawal, ulcers, and digestive-tract problems are representative of chronic stress, medical research suggests. Establishing stress as a persistent condition can cause major physical harm to vital bodily systems like blood pressure, heart rate, memory, mood, and immune functioning.
Symptoms aside, what causes economic fret? Are you in the clear if you're simply debt free? According to Robert L. Weisman (Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester and Doctor of Osteopathy at Rochester Medical Center), a sense of powerlessness, nervous tension, and other mental and emotional distress can all be caused by the mere threat of a perpetual negative balance or inadequate earnings. A poll by the American Psychological Association (APA) titled Stress in America cited major stress influences in American lives as the following: 66% caused by money, 67% caused by the economy, 53% caused by personal health concerns, 49% from job stability, and 49% from housing costs. The 2014 Gallup Economy and Personal Finance poll found that of their respondents, 36% are moderately/very worried about not having enough money to pay their normal monthly bills, and 31% are moderately/very worried about not being able to pay their rent, mortgage, or other housing costs.
In a New York Life's Financial Stress Survey, 47% of respondents from New York Life's Financial Stress Survey listed "concerns with facing potentially unaffordable medical expenses" as a cause of intense pressure. Stressing about unexpected medical expenses is a bitter actuality when your medical expenses are almost guaranteed to rise with the costly act that stress has become. In fact, "75% of health-care costs are associated with chronic illnesses. What's a key driver of chronic illnesses? Stress," said APA CEO Norman B. Anderson.
Is there any silver lining in all this negative hype and, dare I say it, stress-inducing bad news? In short, yes. Treatment for pecuniary anxiety is available and affordable, as well as tools for managing your cash-flow and monetary future. There's an abundant amount of resources for tackling money stress from qualified financial advising sites like Forbes, Market Watch, Finances Online, and Kiplinger. Don't forget, your financial institution will almost always have a competent consultant available to work with you in person or online to help wrangle your rebellious assets, plan for your retirement, and take control of your capital.
You're not alone, you don't need to be sick with stress, and there are ways to cope. Don't let your money problems cost you more money in the long run.
Money can have a huge impact on relationships, so much so that it can contribute to marital discord and even divorce. If you're married or in a long-term relationship, it's important for you and your partner to either be on the same page financially or discuss your differences openly and learn to compromise. When mapping out your joint financial future, cover the essentials.
Spending habits and attitude toward money
Are you cautious about spending, or do you believe in enjoying the things money can buy and dealing with the consequences later? Understanding your partner's attitude toward money is a key component of financial planning. It’s okay if you’re not on the same page, but you’ll need to learn to compromise and reconcile each other’s habits with your financial goals.
Do you want to purchase a home in the next few years? Start a family? Retire early? Discuss your short-, medium-, and long-term financial goals early, and reach an agreement about where your money needs to be going. Setting mutual goals or agreeing to support each other's goals, can help you and your partner avoid conflict and resentment down the line.
Let’s say your five-year plan centers on buying a house, whereas your partner isn’t particularly motivated to own property. If you don’t discuss your goal up-front, you may end up feeling bitter toward your partner if you’re not in a position to buy five years down the line when he pushed you to travel and purchase cars and electronics instead of save for that down payment. But if you make your goals clear and create a specific savings strategy, you’ll be more likely to achieve them and less likely to harbor negative feelings about your partner’s lack of support.
Appetite for risk
Once you've established your financial goals, you'll need to figure out how to get there. Before you start building your portfolio, openly discuss your feelings about risk-taking. If you're both conservative, you may lean toward safer but low-yield investments like bonds or certificates of deposit. On the other hand, if you're both open to being aggressive and aren't afraid to lose some money in the short-term, you could opt for stocks or even real estate. Now if one of you is a financial risk-taker and the other isn't, you'll need to negotiate a strategy that works for both of you. This could include a mix of mutual funds, individual stocks, low-yield bonds, and money markets. Diversifying offers a degree of financial protection and peace of mind; and if you and your partner have differing tolerances for risk, it’s a good compromise toward meeting your goals.
By asking the right questions and approaching the discussion with open minds, you and your partner can set yourselves up for a solid financial future without letting money take a toll on your relationship.
Budgeting for a vacation can be hard enough, but is it worth it when you have a baby in the mix? My family proved it is. My one-year-old daughter has been on three family trips, including one overseas vacation. How did we swing it?
Stagger the expenses. We purchased the plane tickets before my daughter was born (about a half a year in advance), and then added her on to the ticket. Although children under two years old can fly free, we booked a bassinet for $100. While booking early can be risky, credit cards and travel insurances allow you to switch or cancel plans with valid reasons. Planning ahead allowed us to save up for a few months.
Location is everything. Each vacation area has different lodging options for different prices. Be flexible about where you stay, and you can save a bundle. When we stayed in Washington D. C., we saved by staying in a hotel in the suburbs. We saved over $150 dollars on the hotel. However, hindsight I would perhaps have been better off staying in the center city and traveling via bus or subway. Parking cost a decent amount, even though we walked a lot. In Florida, we were able to rent a villa for less than what a hotel room would cost. Overseas, we rented an apartment for most of the time. Weigh your options to see what works best for your family.
Also, when traveling keep in mind the overall expense. In big cities such as Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, check out the myriad of free attractions. Also look attraction bundles or entertainment clubs for a discount. It's worth it if you're interested in most of the attractions offered on the pass. Also, make sure these locations are suitable for babies and children.
Practice food frugality. Staying in a suite or villa with a kitchen may be the same price or less expensive than a hotel. You will also save by preparing your own meals instead of eating out every day. Breakfasts are the easiest to plan ahead and prepare, if you're not lucky enough to have free breakfast included in your lodging. During our trips, we'd have a filling brunch then save time and money by skipping lunch and packing our own snacks. Occasionally, we purchased take-out food at half price at the end of the week at a local grocery, freeze it, and warm it up later for a relaxed dinner.
Pack your baby essentials. Bring along your car seat, and you'll save each day on the car rental. Car rentals are notorious for their add-on fees, and rental car seats can cost between $10-15 a day. They may cap it at $60-70 per seat. I love my snap and go stroller (purchased secondhand) and used it all over. A baby carrier is another great option to bring if you plan on walking. Although a baby carrier isn't as comfortable (you'll definitely get good exercise), it will allow you to go places a stroller just wouldn't work. If you're thinking of going hiking, touring places with bumps or steps, or visiting a museum that doesn't allow carriages, consider taking a baby carrier. These options allow public transportation and save on parking fees.
Also, remember your basic baby items. You don't want to buy an overpriced can of formula or package pampers out of desperation. And while traveling home by plane, you don't want to pay additional luggage fees, either.
So is vacationing with baby manageable? In a couple of years, the baby will be big and asking you for souvenirs, rides, and the dreaded "Are we there yet?" Enjoy relaxing with your little one while it lasts.
I have entered a phase in my life in which many of my classmates, friends, and family are in the thick of diapers, teething, and general child-rearing activities. I am not married, and I just bought my first house with rooms for family expansion but no crying offspring to fill the rooms just yet. I am often asked why I haven't started my own family. Whether it is circumstance, divine intervention, or conscious decision making on my part, waiting to start a family proved to be a financially sound decision for me. The following five reasons influenced this decision.
Learning to be careful with money
I definitely come from the cloth of learning from your mistakes. I found out the hard way what not paying your credit card bills, defaulting on student loans, and overall biting off more than you can chew can do to your credit, your stress level, and your quality of life. I wasn't ready to start a family while I was busy making financial mistakes. Now that I have a grip on these principles, however, I have the tools to execute them and hopefully pass them on, a concept I previously lacked.
Taking time to find out what I wanted to do when I grow up
When I was younger, I was hopelessly idealistic, and I proudly hold on to this value. However, it also led me down many roads before I found the path I was looking for. Taking some extra time let me explore, try different things, and eventually pursue what makes me fulfilled and financially solvent. Some people sail right into their ideal life, and some of us take the long way until we're better prepared for major life changes.
Learning from others
I always knew kids were expensive, but I never really knew just how expensive until I watched others embark on their journeys. Everything is a learning process, and one thing parents are exceptional at is sharing that knowledge. Waiting to start a family provides great opportunities to observe and learn from others until you're ready to take on the responsibility.
Waiting until I can rely less on parents
I can't imagine having a family without the support of my immediate family, but I know they appreciate I've developed self-sufficiency. They are always there to help, but now they get to live their own livse as well and enjoy their well-deserved retirement money. Waiting to start a family until I don't have to rely on my own parents ensured I won't be an undue burden.
Finally realizing how important family is to me
People always say you will never be completely prepared to have children and they will change your life in ways you never knew. This terrified me and delayed my decision to have a family. However, once I spent some time learning who I was and what my place in the world could be, that fear subsided. Financial stability was just an essential building block to truly knowing what I wanted, even if that took a while. And as they say, knowing is half the battle. I guess the other half is just the journey.
Travel is something every 20-something should do. The older you get, the more responsibilities pile on and the more difficult it becomes to gather the time and resources necessary to pack up and see the world. It's not completely free, but there are a variety of ways to see the world on a budget: Start with a road trip.
If you're between jobs or feel stuck at your current position, consider hitting the road. Maybe you'll have better luck in a new city. If not, keep moving until you do.
Store your stuff
To make long-term travel affordable, you need to cut your bills. This means cancelling all subscriptions, utilities, and even your rent or mortgage payment. If you can't get out of the lease or sell your house because of financial constraints, sublease it.
You also need a place to store your stuff. Ask friends and family if they have space in their garages, yards, basements, attics, or closets. Anything you can't store for free, you'll have to either rent a storage space ($20-200/month) or sell/donate. Be sure to keep a receipt for tax purposes on any donations.
Prepare your vehicle
You need a running vehicle. Air conditioning, radio, and other accessories are secondary to a mechanically sound vehicle. If you don't trust your current vehicle to drive across the country at 80 mph, trade up. Either way, keep up on the maintenance, and check your tire condition before every trip.
Remember gas and parking
Your three biggest concerns when living on the road are affording gas (~$4/gal), finding a place to park, and recharging your gadgets. A day of driving will cost you anywhere from $50-$300, and you'll need to park eventually. Parking your car uses no gas, but you'll need to occasionally run the engine to charge your devices. Parking overnight is a subject in itself, covered here.
In major cities, gas is normally cheaper, but parking is a premium. In more rural areas, you can often park on the side of the road, but you'll spend upwards of 20 cents extra per gallon. When planning destinations, pay close attention to free places to park and routes that use gas most efficiently to see everything you want to see.
Plan for eating and recharging
Electrical outlets aren't easy to find outside your home or office, but you can usually find them when visiting restaurants. Eating out at local holes in the wall can get pricey ($10-20 per meal), but you find a free place to sit, eat, recharge your electronics, and even surf the web.
Your budget will limit eating out between once a week and once a month. Keep hydrated, and buy bulk protein powder, trail mixes, peanut butter, and bread. For $20, you can eat for 10 days.
Traveling is an adventure where you learn about yourself by immersing yourself in other cultures. It's difficult to find both time and money, but if you're willing to take the leap and have an adventure on a budget, it can be accomplished. Map out a destination you've always wanted to visit and just drive there for a week. Each week you travel, you learn something new and are better prepared for next time.