In my previous post, Determining Your Budget, you were given steps to analyze your current financial situation and to estimate the total cost of training Muay Thai in Thailand. The following will help you bridge the gap between the amount of money you currently save and the estimated total cost of training in Thailand on your terms.
For those of you joining the discussion now and/or those of you who weren’t inclined to complete the previous exercise, the following will set a basic foundation to help you save money to train in Muay Thai Thailand.
Redefine Your Concept Of Need
Want and need are very different, although they sometimes intersect. The point here is to eradicate spending money on what you want and allow for only what you need. This concept is dependent on your current financial situation, your timeline and what you’ve decided your path in Thailand to be (if you’ve decided). So play with this. Some of you will have to be more stringent than others, but please be cognizant before purchasing anything.
Make buying a product or service a willful decision; refrain from it being a habit. Be mindful.
For those of you who determined Your Essential Living Costs in the previous exercise, your Essential Living Costs is your pre-Thailand budget in the strictest sense. Some of you will need to rigidly adhere to this, others won’t. Be honest with yourself. The goal is to train in Thailand on your terms. Pushing your comfort zone in regards to your financial habits is worth the effort. Again, for some of you, it’s critical. Note: It’s generally wise to realize the amount of money per month you actually need to live (although, by the time is piece is finished, I’ll have you reexamine that too).
Manage Your Debt
If your debt is determining your timeline and/or dictating whether or not you can train in Thailand, make this a priority. Pay off as much on the principal as you can. Todd R. Tressider of FinancialMentor.com has created a series of Financial Calculators that will assist you. The resource is incredible. The Financial Calculators include those to help you manage your mortgage, credit card debt, auto loans, general loans in addition to savings, investment, personal finance and retirement calculators. Each subject area has a number of tailored calculators that are searchable via name and a menu of questions. For example, Which repayment strategy will cost the least and get me out of debt the fastest?
For those of you who Identified Where Your Money Is Going in the last post, you now have a tailored list of expenses you can minimize and/or eradicate.
Let’s look at some of the savings options for everyone:
1. Set Up a High Interest Savings Account
Create a bank account specifically for your trip to Thailand. Watching the balance increase may motivate you; you’ll see the direct results of your efforts. If necessary, set up an automatic withdrawal after each pay period to transfer money into this account. Don’t opt for an ATM card. It’s crucial not to not withdrawal from this account, particularly if you’re prone to impulsive spending. In addition, it’s worth the effort to research interests rates from various financial institutions. I’ve been using ING Direct (they’re currently available in forty countries). When I conducted my original research in Toronto, they offered the best interest rates on all financial products, including short-term guaranteed investments.
2. Bank Fees
If you accumulate a number of additional banking fees, for example ATM withdrawal fees, consider changing your banking plan, your bank, or your habits.
3. Pay Your Credit Cards + Loans On Time
4. Apartment/Condo Rent
Is it possible to move to a new living space? Can you find cheaper accommodations? A roommate? What about trying to find an apartment within walking distance to your workplace or school?
Can you take transit rather than drive? How about walk? A great way to get your cardio ready for Thailand is to bike. Is this a possibility? If you’re in a major city, need to drive to work and pay public parking every day, is it possible to rent a parking space in a nearby building (i.e. condo)? Do you get speeding or parking tickets? Smarten up. Ha!
6. Telephone + Internet
If you have more than one phone (i.e. a mobile/cellphone and a land-line) consider downsizing to one. If you’re a mobile user, reexamine your plan. Find a plan that is cheaper or consider downgrading your phone. Can you consolidate your telephone and internet bills? Find a better internet plan?
Do you need one? How about a cheaper cable or satellite plan? How about cancelling altogether?
8. Energy Costs
Are there ways you can conserve energy in your living space? Check here and here for ideas.
What do you pay someone else to do that you can easily do yourself?
Manicures, dyeing hair, car oil changes and minor home repairs are some examples.
10. Reduce Eating At Restaurants / Cook At Home
You can save a lot of money simply by cooking at home. In addition, eating less processed foods and buying cheaper brands will cut down your spending. Shop at farmers’ markets. If it works for you, eat less meat or none at all.
11. Brew Your Own Coffee
12. Alcohol and Other Vices
Cutting costs in this department may be all that some of you need to do to save money to train in Thailand. If you’re serious about Muay Thai, abandon your vices. They’ll interfere with your ability to train now and in Thailand. This is particularly important for those of you who are interested in fighting at a high level gym in Bangkok. Some fighters do indulge, but not the ones that I’ve ever trained with that are at the top of their game.
13. Socialize Cheaply
Entertain at home. Spend more time outside. Find free things to do.
14. Buy Discounted Services + Merchandise
15. Buy Second Hand
16. Don’t Buy At All
It’s amazing how little is required to live comfortably once you redefine your concept of need.
17. Barter / Trade Services + Items
18. Travel Hack
Travel hacking is the process of maximizing travel and financial tools to travel cheaply and/or for free. There is an entire subculture of travel hackers out there. Chris Guillebeau’s Beginner’s Guide To Travel Hacking is a good place to start. Then check his Travel Hacking In Early 2013. You may also want to read Lifehacker’s The Ultimate Travel Hacking Guide and Stretch Your Money Farther With These Global Travel Hacks.
19. Sign Up For Loyalty Programs and Points Cards
From collecting points for free essentials like groceries in your current location to indulgences like free stays in luxury hotels abroad, collecting points from different sources can be worth your while, particularly if you already shop at the specific businesses. A number of retailers offer store specific points cards. I’ve benefited from this with very little effort which included but wasn’t limited to two free nights at The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. Credit cards, hotels and air carriers offer the same. Although this intersects with travel hacking, there are communities devoted specifically to maximizing points for travel. Check The Points Guy’s Beginner’s Guide for more info.
Keep in mind that which you may think is inconsequential, aka the small things, really do add up.
My previous post Living The Dream Math illustrates how.
Todd R. Tressider’s Savings Calculators are highly recommended. He offers a calculator that will figure the amount of time it will take you to reach your savings goal and one that figures how much you should save each month to reach your financial goals.
Lastly, view saving money to train Muay Thai in Thailand as a game, not a sacrifice. You’re working towards something, not losing anything, except a few less than ideal habits.
How much are your dreams worth?
The next post in this series will focus on ways to make money to help you train Muay Thai in Thailand.
Do you have any money saving tips to add? Please let us know in the comments!