Success Stories: How Michael Saved $14k in 6 Months Making $9 Per Hour

By Nomadic Matt | Published December 5th, 2012

michael traveling success storyGreetings from Africa! Somewhere right now, I’m trying to snap a photo of a lion without being eaten. Or, I am friending a honey badger. In the meantime, this week I want to share stories of readers who have realized their travel dreams in hopes of inspiring and showing you that anyone can make their travel dreams come true!

A lot of people say you need to have a well-paying job in order to afford your trip. But Michael (age 27) never had one of those, yet he still managed to save $15k in 6 months while on making $9 USD per hour! When he told me his story, I knew he was perfect for this week’s success story. He epitomized the idea that anyone can find the money for travel. Without further ado, let’s meet Michael and find out how you save so much money while making so little!

Nomadic Matt: Tell everyone about yourself.
Michael: I was living in Austin, Texas before I became a citizen of the world. I had always wanted to take a year off and travel the world. I had taken small trips overseas in the past and would meet so many travelers who were taking months or years off to travel. Those people put the idea in my head that maybe I could travel for extended periods of time too. When I graduated from college I spent a year and a half looking for a teaching position but couldn’t find one. I started entertaining the idea of selling everything I own and taking a year off to travel, but still it didn’t really seem feasible. Since I couldn’t find a teaching position I got a job as a cook at a pizza place in Austin. I was only making $9 per hour plus tips.

How long were you planning on traveling?
I was just planning to be gone for a year. Once I started researching how to travel the world, I came across several blogs of people offering words of encouragement and advice. I had looked up RTW tickets and thought that would be the best way to go. I had started organizing and planning the entire year; what cities I would go to, the cost of living in each country, etc. But then I thought “how the hell can someone plan for an entire year?” I was new to planning a trip but still knew there was just no way to plan anything for an entire year. Now, I’m just going to go with the flow and be gone as long as possible.

That’s the best way to go! What fears, if any, did you have about your trip?
I was afraid of two things. First, I feared what people would think. I was about to embark on something extremely unorthodox where I come from and I knew no one was going to understand. Instead of people asking me why, people were amazed that I actually had the balls to do it. My family was supportive and thought it would be a great experience, friends were probably a little jealous but they were supportive and couldn’t believe what I was doing. Everyone thought I was crazy but in a good way. I have had 100% support from my friends and family. I still get to keep in touch with everyone regularly through e-mail, Skype, and Facebook.

michael traveling

The second fear I had was about the trip itself. I thought to myself, what if I spend all this money, and waste so much time just to have nothing work out the way I want it to. But it was just fearful thinking creeping its way into my mind. The bottom line is, no matter what decision you make in life, you never know whether things will work out for you. As long as you pursue what your heart is telling you to, things will always work out just fine. Thinking that things might not work out went against my newfound way of thinking. I have been gone for two months so far and already things have worked out better than I could have imagined.

Was there anything specific about this site that helped you overcome those fears?
I was inspired by your website not to plan. That’s one of the reasons why I like your blog so much, because it’s written from the perspective of someone who waived off fear and the societal norms that prevent us from traveling and just went for it. I wanted that for so long but didn’t think it was possible until I started reading your website. To keep my inspiration alive before I left, I would tell friends and family about you and tell them “look, it is possible.” When my friends told me I was crazy and that they would never be able to do it, I would email them posts from your site, so that maybe they would be inspired too. Or at least, they would have a better understanding of where I was coming from.

Moreover, this site helped me to travel better by introducing me to money-saving techniques such as WWOOFing and Couchsurfing that have helped me save on accommodations. The site also gave me ideas on how to save money on eating which was something I originally thought I was going to have to spend a lot of money on because everyone needs food to survive. After reading about eating locally I was inspired to cut down my budget even further when it comes to food. Not only is eating locally adventurous and fun but it really does help to save a lot of money. You helped me to realize that the slower I travel the more money I will save. If you don’t have a set itinerary and have nowhere to be then take your time while getting from point A to point B, not only do you get to see more and take more in, but you have the opportunity to meet more people too.

michael travelingOk, so tell us, how the heck did you save $15k in 6 months?
I decided I wanted to save $15,000 for my trip, figuring that could last me for a year. I only had 6 months to save for my trip so I had to work my hardest to be able to get to $15,000. I say I only had six months because to keep myself from putting off the trip and keeping myself disciplined I booked my flight out of the U.S. the day I decided I was going to travel around the world.

At first I thought I would get a second part-time job, upping my total work hours to 60 a week. I was only making $9 USD per hour so it’s not like I was living the rich life. My boss ended up giving me the hours I wanted so there was no need for a second job. On top of the 60 hours he gave me, I would eat up others people’s hours if they called out of work. On average for 5 months I was working about 65 hours a week. Life was tough, but I kept my goal in sight and fought through it. In those 6 months, I put myself on a budget; I would limit myself to drinking once a week, eat food from work as much as I could, not use my air conditioner as much (that was the worst for I was living in Texas), and try to lower my electricity bill by not using as much light. Basically, I put my expenses into two columns, wants and needs (a friend of mine came up with this money saving technique). Every time I was to spend money I would ask myself if it was a want or a need. If it was a want I would usually come to the conclusion that it was a waste of money.

Aside from working I sold stuff to make money. I sold almost every electronic item I had, like my T.V., guitar amps and such. I figured I could always get those things again later in life if I wanted them. I also sold my car.

I didn’t actually reach my goal of $15,000 dollars. I was close, though, at about $14,000. The life of working so many hours got to me and I started drinking a lot with friends. Not just because of work though, I wanted to have as much fun with everyone that I could before I left. I wasn’t sure when I was going to see all my friends again so I wanted to live it up, but that’s okay.

What about life on the road has surprised you the most?
How much people are willing to help you out. I didn’t think people were going to give a damn about me, if I was lost I figured they would say “good luck kid, cant help you!” If I didn’t know how to communicate I figured people would give up, but none of that has happened. If I’m lost people will help me find my way, if I can’t communicate, people will be patient and honestly try to figure out what I’m trying to say. If I’m lost and I can’t communicate, most people will tend to realize my problem and then point me in the right direction. Being lost and asking someone for directions is a great ice breaker at the very least. Some of my best conversations have started with me asking people how to get somewhere.

michael traveling success story

How do you stay on budget when you travel? I would think after living so frugally before you left that you would want to splurge on your trip.
Staying on budget is tough. Sometimes you want to eat an awesome meal, and sometimes you just want to get really drunk. I have no problem with indulging from time to time. You’re supposed to have fun while traveling, and eating and drinking is one of my favorite things in life. But you have to remember to do those things in moderation. Before I left I figured how much I would be able to spend every day to be gone for a year given the total savings I have. I just stick to that. If I find myself in a surplus than I will get a nice meal and drink. If I’m not, than I will conserve my money. Budgeting to me is a science. I did research on the cost of living in several parts of the world to help plan out my budget.

What one thing that you thought would be a challenge has turned out not to be?
I thought the biggest challenge was going to be finding my way around the countries where English isn’t spoken very well. And it is a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge, and not as frustrating as I thought it was going to be. Sometimes I end up at the wrong place, but I just laugh it off and enjoy where I am. The great thing about traveling without time constraints is that if you have nowhere to be, it doesn’t really matter where you are. Don’t think about the destination, just enjoy the journey.

What advice would you offer to others who want to travel but might not think they can?
I would tell them to make a list of all the reasons why they think they can’t and then one by one come up with examples of how they could overcome each reason. I would also encourage people to read about others who have done the same thing to realize that it is possible and really not that hard.

Michael’s story shows us that you don’t need some high paying job to travel. Even on a minimum wage job, if you are diligent enough, you can save enough to travel around the world. Michael made his trip a priority and cut out all wasteful spending. If you’re having doubts about your ability to save money and travel – whether it is for a 2 week, 2 month, or 2 year trip, think about Michael. If he can do it while on earning $9 per hour, you can do it too!

Become the Next Success Story

One of my favorite parts about this job is hearing people’s travel stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way but there are many ways to fund your trips and travel the world and I hope these stories show you that there is more than one way to travel and that is within your grasp to reach your travel goals. Here are more examples of people who found a way to pay for their adventure around the world:

We all come from different places, but we all have one thing in common:

We all want to travel more.

Make today the day you take one step closer to traveling – whether it is buying a guidebook, booking a hostel, creating an itinerary, or going all the way and buying a plane ticket.

Remember, tomorrow may never come so don’t wait.

comments 80 Comments

This is a really inspiring story. The dedication of grinding out the 60 hours+ per week for 6 months is pretty telling regarding Michael’s level of determination. I really liked this statement – ‘The bottom line is, no matter what decision you make in life, you never know whether things will work out for you. As long as you pursue what your heart is telling you to, things will always work out just fine.’ That’s almost poetic and very true. This has renewed my determination to go travelling again, thanks for an insightful interview.

I love that quote too. I’m about to make quite a big decision that has both positives and negatives (what big decision doesn’t?!) and I’ve been thinking the same thing – everything turns out ok in the end. You make it work. You move forward. Everything happens for a reason.

rubin pham

this man has the courage and conviction to do what he wants. great story.

BackpackingTony

I love this story! I just announced to my friends and family my intention to do a RTW trip. I planned on saving double the amount Michael did. After reading this, I’m more inspired then ever!
Thank you so much for this wonderful interview!

Good story. Solid discipline on his part. I will say having worked in the service industry in Austin that the $9 an hour figure isn’t likely totally accurate. I made mad money in tips when I worked there. Of course I was also working at a high end restaurant and not a pizza place but Austinites are pretty generous to their own.

I would also remind people to realize that they dont need $15,000 to begin with. This is a major psychological hurdle for many. I have never begun any trip with more than a few thousand bucks in my pocket and traveled for months at a time on it. If you have skills, barter them. I have used my filmmaking and writing skills to live in Australia for a year, travel for over a month in New Zealand, Alaska and India and 2 weeks in Costa Rica. It has gotten me travel throughout the united states multiple times. Sometimes it was paid work and sometimes just trade. With other travels I just used CS and other community oriented ways to save while wandering.

The first part of the equation is the determined decision to GO! Get enough together to get your ticket, that sets the date and sets in you in motion for whatever else needs to be done for your travels. Then come hell or high water…get on that plane, boat, bus or whatever and enjoy the ride!

Micky

I agree with you. He must have got heaps of money with his tips. Just calculated: when you work 6 months and 60 hours per week for $9 per hour, you just earn $14.040. So he needed to cover his normal living expences with his tips and what he sold. Cause he saved every Dollar he earned. So in reality it is more than $9 per hours.
But still a great story. And working 60 hours per week is quite exhausting. Just believe in your dreams and you can do everything.
And I also agree with you, that you can start travelling with less money. I spent 5 months in Australia volunteering and travelling with not even half of the money.

Teresa Oliver

Actually, anything over 40 hours a week is overtime and pays $13.50 an hour; so on average he worked 25 hours of overtime per week. 9*40=360 + 13.50*25=337.50; total weekly income =697.50; multiply that by 52, then divide by 12, then multiply by 6 and his total earnings was 18135. Subtract 14000 (which is what he ended up saving) and he had 4135 to spend on 6 months worth of expenses, which was never specified exactly so we cannot speculate.

I said all of that to say, do not discredit what he did. I am truly inspired by his dedication!

Sitanshu Mohan Banerjee

Would you please tell the story how was your travel to India? How long did you stay in India and how did you manage day to day expenses?

It’s really interesting for me to see how greatly your country of origin changes your perspective. In Poland, where I am from, earning 9$ per hour makes you already quite rich (kind of the lower part of the upper middle class;) ) and would make me travel the crap out of the world, just like Michael did. And a budget of 15k looks like enough for a world travel for TWO. I actually know at least one couple who did this (without living like bums;p).

Personally, I am travelling not as much as you, Matt, but at the same time also much longer than the average person (3-4 months per year). I am averaging a 400-600$ per month budget on each trip, although there is nothing to compare, because I’m mostly on a quite different standard than you (CS, camping, home stays, hitchhiking, etc).
So as long as people are able able to move their personal borders and seek adventures, travelling is doable for everyone! Keep inspiring :)

Veronika

I totally agree with you, Addam, same situation is in Ukraine :( I WISH I could earn 9$ per hour so that I would have done my RTW trip years ago :) But saving is really hard with average salary of 200$ in my country.

Wow great story! Definitely a dream for me, hopefully one day :)

Kim

Such an inspiring story, I am giving myself a year to save up £10k but the good thing is I have cleared all my debt so I have no excuses now to not following my dream. Roll on 2014.

Carmella

Beyond inspiring.
As a backpacker myself, this article covers all the pressing questions people have asked me and worried about. I feel so defeated when people say silly things like, “Oh it’s my dream, but it just costs so much.” When in reality, for those of us who have made a trek, know that the “impossible” is most definitely possible. If you can save 15k, off $9 an hour, than almost anyone can do it. The question people really have to face, all money aside, is if the desire is really there. Travel is more than money, but a mindset. If you can put your heart and soul into saving and dreaming, than travel will follow with benefits and happiness that words can’t even define. Cheers to Michael! Hope you’re having the best time. Let’s keep inspiring people to travel.

mikey

Hey everyone, Michael here. Im 6 months into my trip and would like to clarify some things and teach what I have learned so far. One: The $14,000 I earned is way more than enough money, you really don’t need this much money. Of course it depends on how you travel, but if you put to use the money saving techniques Matt talks about then $14,000 is way more than enough. I was in New Zealand for seven weeks and only spent $300 the whole time. It looks like I will be going home with money left over. As I look back, I don’t regret working that hard to save money, I only wish I knew I didn’t need that much money and I would have left a lot sooner in my life. I always tell people I meet “if I knew traveling was gonna be this cheap and easy I would have been doing this ages ago.” which brings me to my next point. Two: its eluded to above, but it isn’t so much about the money, its about your determination. If you are truly determined to go out and travel then just go and do it. Having money is only a safety blanket which does feel good, but isn’t as necessary as you think if you employ Matts money saving tips. Hope to see you all on the road soon.

John

if you could save $15000 on $9/hr in 6 months (which you couldn’t unless you’re freeloading) it’s really costing you $30,000 as you’ll spend that $15,000 and lose out on earning $15,000

Em

:( He’s losing $15K for traveling? Sounds to me like he is winning! Travel > $.

Love this story! Very real and inspirational. Michael, are you blogging at all during your trip? Also, how long are you planning to travel for on this one venture?

Thanks Matt for posting. Will RT for my followers.

Peter

Ashlea

Loved this! Really makes me aware of how much my money just slips out of my pockets and disappears lately though!

Inspiring, however you don’t need $15,000 I set of on my RTW trip with just £2,000 that I made working for £5 per hour and I was traveling for a year, planning on doing the same thing again later this year.

That’s inspiring Claire! Matt should do an interview with you too. I usually hear about people saving $10K – $20K to start their RTW trips, so it’s refreshing to hear about someone starting with only £2,000 for a year-long trip. I’m squeezing my travels into my vacation time from work but I love to read about people that travel all year. Over the past two years I visited Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna, Venice, Romania, London, Costa Rica, the Florida Keys, Cancun, Cozumel, and the Bahamas — all while working full-time.

Hey Melanie, Thank you for your interest, I managed to travel for the year picking up odd jobs along the way and working in places for food and accommodation…wow that is a lot of countries to visit whilst holding down a full time job keep it up.

John

assuming you spent 4 days in each area (including travel time) that’s taking over a month off from work, but lets say 7 weeks as grand canyon/las vegas was probably the same trip. Assuming you worked 40 hours a week every week when you did work that puts you around 34 hours a week average which isn’t fulltime. most jobs require 35+ hours to be considered full time.

Ash

My husband and I moved to Ireland after we got married with around 4,000 AUD, stayed in hostels until we found work, travelled around Ireland while we worked and saved enough to backpack through Europe on our way home for 4 months.

Colin

When someone refers to themselves as a citizen of the world it makes me want to vomit uncontrollably

Great story! It’s always excellent to hear about people putting travel first as their number one priority and making it happen. So many people claim they want to travel but cannot save to do it – that’s just a convenient excuse though, as Michael’s story proves!

Great story! I ended up living as frugal as possible but to pay off my student loans and it worked!

Veronika

Very nice article, it inspired me a lot! Now I plan my first solo trip to South America for around 4 months so I read all success stories from your blog, Matt, and I really enjoy each word and advice that travelers said. Thank you! :)

Leigh

These Success Stories have been great this week – very inspirational.
One kind of success story I would love to see though, that would address my main fear of doing this:

Not the success of leaving, but the success of returning. I’ve yet to read anything about it on this blog, but the main worry for me is what taking a year, two years, or more out of my career will do for my prospects when I finally get back home.

Leigh, I think it improves your prospects when you return home. I worked and travelled for over 8 years. When I returned back to Australia to get a job all the recruiters and employees were amazed at the variety of work and the amount of travel I had managed to do. I was suprised to hear that they were impressed by my call centre jobs that I picked up in Spain during the recession. It had nothing to do with my previous experience but they said it showed determination to work and that I made the most out of any situation.

When I worked in Australia I was in a better job and on more money that before I left and while I was travelling. I worked in that job for almost two years and they completely understood when I told them I was leaving to go travel again. So I’ve been back on the road again for the last few months and that employee told me to look them up when and if I return to work in Australia again.

I guess it depends on what industry you are in, but I think most employers look at travel and working travel favourably.

Wow, that’s an amazing story! Nothing is impossible if you want something badly! Very inspiring :)

Adin

Where all did you go?

What an inspiring story! I’m actually trying to save some money for next year for my next trips, hopefully my savings from this previous year will be enough to sustain all my travels. I’m glad to hear your travel success and good luck on all your future endeavors!

Zak

This was a great post. I’m so glad to hear that Michael’s “big secret” for achieving his dream was good old-fashioned hard work, and that it paid off for him in spades.

Congratulations, Michael, on your well-deserved adventure, and thank you, Matt, for featuring such an inspiring person! All the best to both of you :)

Lauren

Really cool to see another Texan getting out into the world! You put my savings to shame, Michael!

jan

Your story is very motivating Michael. Lots of work and self control for 6 months and then it is all worth it. Sounds like you are really enjoying yourself now. Good Luck. Great story Matt.

Great story! Our story is actually quite similar. We’ve managed to stay on the road for over 3 and a half years so far by employing very similar tactics. When we first started planning for the trip we were in Canada and managed to save 70% of our wage for one year, giving us enough money to travel for a few years. After that, when money was getting close to running out (Nobody wants to hit zero) We got a job teaching English in China and now we’re making about $15 / hour and we should save about $18,000 when this contract is up giving us another year on the road! Plus we’ve spent the whole year living like kings in China! Like this post says, It can be done… quite easily! If you want more tips on how to save money for travelling, or tips on life teaching in China, see the links below! Thanks for this post Matt & Michael! Great Info!

Cheers!
Goats On The Road

Great story! Work hard travel hard!

Wow! That is a lot to save in 6 months! Puts my pre-trip frugality to shame!

NomadicMatt

Mine too!

Inspiring story!

His saving trick reminds me of my Mum.. Life was difficult when I was growing up. Financial resources were very limited and we survived those years because of my Mum’s motto.

Before shelling out any money, the golden question pops out? Is it necessity or not?

Cheers!

Greg c

They tip COOKS in Austin?

NomadicMatt

In the service industry, waiters generally give a small portion of tips to the kitchen staff.

Greg c

I worked as a cook for 11 years. Most of my family worked in restaurants, some for 30+ years. No one got tips except bus boys (min wage plus a split of 15% of servers tips) and servers (1/2 minimum wage plus tips). In my experience kitchen staff got straight hourly. Hosts and other dining room sometimes shared in tips. I grew up in a service town/region in the US.

NomadicMatt

Thanks for sharing the info! I just thought it was shared all around!

Greg c

That said, I am impressed. The best I did as a cook was when I saved around $7000 In a summer :) 14 or 15 is quite a feat. I was making 9.75 for 56 hrs a week.

Excellent piece! I really like te part about people’s willingness to help you. I find that most people are inherently good and more than willing to lend a helping hand. It’s contrary to what is usually portrayed in many media outlets, so it’s great to see another story touting the kindness of humanity.

The key is frugality rather than how much money you saved.

Interesting story, but I wonder why he didn’t think about teaching overseas instead of working in a pizza parlor? That’s the easiest and best way to travel and make money while you’re doing it. If you go to somewhere like Korea, you even get free airfare and a free apartment.

I moved to Thailand 10 years ago to teach English. Planned on staying a year, just never left :), and yes it’s the best thing I ever did.

Since then, I now run my own business in Thailand and spend months of the year traveling around Asia and Europe when I’m not working.

Still, good for him. At least he did it and, if he does want to teach, maybe he’ll think about doing that overseas when his trip is over? :)

Hello Rachel,

How did you feel as a woman moving to asia? Did you do it by yourself?

kyle

I thought traveling makes you look younger. He looks older than 27. I think what he did is admirable though and I bet he’s a better person because of his journey so it’s all good.

Jaun

hehe, I love first world problems, “I want to travel but I just earn 9 dlls per hour”, here in my country, that’s what “middle class” people earn in “good paid jobs”

Olivia

I think this is great and I wonder if there are any world travellers who have children, young children. I think traveling the world for a year or longer is great for single people, married couples or couples with no children. But for people like myself who would love to travel the word it is not plausible with a 3.5 yr old child , maybe a few weeks at a time but that’s it. I guess I will have to wait my turn for any extended traveling :) good luck and safe travels x

SaraG

There are actually many families that travel the world with young children. It’s a great way to introduce your children to new cultures. Although, it’s not as easy as being a single person, it can be done with a little planning. Older children have to be home-schooled while on the road. I follow several blogs of families traveling with children and it’s very inspiring. I’m currently trying to convince my husband that we should do it.

coffeecream

if you have 1 kid, it will be much easier than having the entire bunch of kids with so much planning before a trip.
before saving, its about being frugal , before any $ shell out, that will help save alot of unnecessary expenses.

Victoria Pressley

Where were the photos taken?

Petar Santini

Inspirational story. Thank you for that.

But I’d just like to point out one little thing… Where I come from $9/hour is a lot of money.

Thank you again for the story,
Petar

Farhan

Great work Michael. Thanks for sharing your story.

Chris

It’s sad that this has been a post for a year and nobody has pointed out the lack of basic math skills. In 6 months you can’t even make $13k, before expenses, let’s generously assume tips cancel taxes.

So unless someone is living for free, not happening. And no mention that working part time for 60 hours is illegal?

NomadicMatt

As Michael states in the interview, he did crazy overtime!

cj

@ chris —chris he mentioned that he also sold his car and everything he owned -its wasn’t all from work
either way hes livin his dream as I have been for 44 years on the road (18 years owned a biz but still traveled twice a month)
traveling is amazing and its fun to look back and see how we traveled in the 60s & 70s compared to now —it was fun then and even better today
today its awesome you have great blogs like matts that teach how to travel for pennys on a dollar(or cheap) and on the internet you have people like you (nomads) back when I started all I needed was 100.00 a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter and everyone thought I was nuts – but thur the internet we find likeminded people that share the same passion -TRAVEL
follow your hreat -not your head -nothin but love and travel cj

Brett

let’s do some math.

He was making 9 dollars a hour, while working an average of 65 hours a week. That gives him 585 dollars a week before taxes. He saved for 6 months or 26 weeks, which gives us a total of 15,210 dollars in total (still before taxes). He said he saved 14,000 dollars in total, which gives him 1,210 dollars for living expenses for 6 months. This would mean to meet this he would have a budget of 202 dollars a month. This is all still before taxes.

Unless he was squatting, dumpster diving, and not paying any utilities for the squat this is clearly not possible. You can tell this was not his lifestyle as he was worried on how people would see him for traveling the world.

NomadicMatt

He sold all his stuff plus when you are working that much, you also get overtime. Moreover, he said he ate his meals at work. It’s possible. It’s hard but possible.

I think the car made a difference. Another 1000 to 1500 dollars may be. So basically Michael lived off his car and saved his wages. Hard, but possible.

Michael is an inspiration. I’m currently focussing on getting loan-free. Will start with a100 day Pan-India tour after that, most likely in my car. RTW comes later.

Matt, where is Michael now? Do we get a followup post? I’d love to hear how his year on the road is going!

John

I call complete and utter BS. I can’t imagine any employer (especially these days with the job market so competitive) that would give someone an average of 25 overtime hours per week, especially when they’re paying employees minimum wage. 40 hours/week*$9/hr*26 weeks = $9360 before taxes. Time and half, $9*1.5= $13.50/hr. $13.50*25 hours/week*26 weeks= $8775 again before taxes and believe it or not when you work overtime the percentage of your income that goes to taxes increases. So that comes out to $18135 before taxes. So subtract $6-8 thousand for taxes, then a minimum of $400/month rent at 6 months, -$2400, utilities, food, drinking -$2000.. So that left him with between $5775-7775.

Assume bullshit electronics sold for $1000, in order to save $15,000 his car must have been worth $14000 and he managed to sell it for $9000-11000

So instead of his employer hiring another employee in a very hungry/competitive job market (for an unskilled job at that) they decided to double his income for only an extra 25 hours of work when they could have hired another fulltime employee for about the same price? That’s pretty fishy, especially when the employer knew he would be quitting soon and be of no value to the company.

NomadicMatt

Even at the highest tax rate of 33%, his taxes would only have been $5,900. However, when you make $14 an hour, you wouldn’t end up in that tax bracket so his taxes would have been a lot lower (and when you make $15k you don’t really pay income taxes). Furthermore, you’re making assumptions about his spending habits but let’s assume you’re right and calculate from there:

$18,135 – 5,900 – 4400 = $8,564 so he only needs to come up with $5,500, which is easily doable if you sell all your stuff along with your car.

The math works, even if you don’t want to believe it.

PS – Before I left on my trip, I worked 60 hour weeks to afford my trip. My employer gave me the extra shifts.

Johannes

Wow – this really makes me appreciate being a Norwegian, living in Norway. I’m 18 and currently work at the supermarket counter, and I make close to 150 NOK, the equivalent of 24$ + extras after 4PM and in the week-ends. I’m planning on saving up 10-15K as well, and then I’ll head for France and SE Asia for 6 months! Can’t wait :D

Johannes

(I also don’t pay any taxes until I’ve earned 40 000ish NOK this year!)

Robbie

Is Michael blogging his travel? Does he have a website? Would love to hear how he spent 7 weeks in New Zealand on a $300 budget.

This is so inspiring. It takes courage to take the decision of leaving friends and family behind in pursuit of your dream. I am hoping to get to the point soon where I could take such passionate decisions..

Ali

This story has been extremely inspiring for me! I’m currently saving up for some long term traveling(and first time out of the US) in November through Southeast Asia then New Zealand. I work 47 hours at one job and serve 3-4 nights a week at my other so I know first hand it isn’t easy, but it will be so worth it. Cheers to you, Michael, and I hope your trip went(is still going?) well!

alison

It’s a great story, but I think this guy was pulling your leg, Matt.

Eric

Why do you think that alison? The only thing I thought would be difficult with those hours/wages is also paying his rent while saving that much… but we don’t know his exact living situation. We also don’t know how much he sold all that electronic equipment, car, etc. for – which would have made him several thousand dollars at least.

Eric

Matt actually provided a great financial analysis in response to John’s comment above. Because Matt’s a G.

I love these kinds of stories – I’m just soaking them all in to bolster my courage for our departure in July. Thanks for sharing :)

Michael’s story proves that the main thing you need to travel is passion – if travel is in your heart and you’re willing to work hard, you can make it happen! Thanks for the inspiration, Matt and Michael.

Jordin

Spontaneity got the best of me today as I booked a flight to Belize. I am so happy to have come across this blog and story as traveling has been a dream of mine! I will take this advice and apply towards my trip and future adventures :)

Emmanuel

Inspiration that inspires :D Where is the I LOVE THIS button when you need it!! I was about to cry while reading this, this is exactly the inspiration I was looking for :D Thank you!!

Jessica Vanderlaan

I am 21 years old and going through a stage in my life that I want to travel and see what is out there. I am so sick of being stuck in one position a long with everyone else on my town. Dafter going through this page and reading this. When I graduate with my degree I am going to find a job out west and travel the country and see what earth has in store for me.thank you so much for this it helped me a lot

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