One thing that I love about budgeting is its predictability. Every month in Indiana, I knew what we would make and what we would spend. I could predict the fixed monthly costs (mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc.) and set aside the rest for more fluid costs (groceries, restaurants, entertainment, etc.) I find an odd comfort in that system and order.
Now, imagine taking all that order and predictability and throwing it out the window… because we decided to move to Alaska. I’d planned for day trips, weeklong trips, and even month long trips. But I’d never planned to move my entire life and live somewhere new for an whole year. That took a new type of plan. Sometimes planning is synonymous with saving, and so that is what we did.
As soon as we decided to move, we decided to start saving…..big time. Anytime we were under budget at the end of a month, we would put every penny in our “Alaska Fund”. Anything we sold would go into our Alaska Fund. Found some loose change on the ground? Alaska Fund. I honestly didn’t know how much we needed to save, but I was leaning towards too much rather than not enough.
In the end, we saved nearly $3,500 in about 6 months. It took a lot of discipline, a lot of craigslist-ing, and a lot of garage sales. But I was so proud of the amount we were able to save in that amount of time. Again, I had no idea how much it would cost us to get up here, but I planned for the worst. So, did we save enough? See for yourself:
Total Budget: $3,500.00
Total Expenses: $2,506.83
We spent nearly $1,000 less than we budgeted! That was a pleasant surprise when we calculated our final expenses. (We intend to use that $1,000 toward the security deposit on the apartment we just signed a lease for today.)
The only way we were able to do our move so “inexpensively” was because of our diligence in saving as well as the willingness to sell nearly everything we own. But, also, a huge assistance in travel savings came in the form of amazing friends and family who hosted us along the way for overnight stays. Shout outs to Pat and Lana Murphy, Ken and Cora Klay, Aaron and Lauren Cloud, Grandma Goldie and Aunt Mary, Michael and Bethany Berens, and Levi and Heidi Smith. You guys made this trip possible and we are eternally grateful. We intentionally rented a 2 bedroom apartment so that all of you can come up and visit. 🙂
We wanted to share this inside look into our finances to 1) let people know it takes hard work and preparation to travel like this, but 2) it is definitely doable and we want to encourage people to take the leap. Travel, in any form and for any length of time, can be done within your means and relatively inexpensively.
As I hinted, we have found an apartment, and we’ll be sharing more details on that as soon as we’re moved in!
^^^ Photo at top from the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake, Canada