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  1. #1
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    EXTREME SAVING: Buying the freedom to travel by bike. What have you done?

    Goran Kropp lived in his tent through a Scandinavian winter to save the cash to cycle from Sweden to Mount Everest...then he climbed the mountain solo without supplemental oxygen.

    On a far less epic scale, my wife and I wore clothing picked from a dumpster and forego restaurant meals for six years to save the cash to make our three year overland journey. We cut our own hair, allowed dental students to work on our teeth for free, and gave up our medical insurance to make it happen.

    Now, in preparation for a long cycling journey, I can't help wonder if there is more we could do to save money.

    How have you saved to buy yourself the freedom to cycle? Where do you draw the line? Have you gone to extremes?
    www.VWVagabonds.com
    Mexico, Central America, South America & Africa in a Volkswagen

    By bicycle West Coast of the U.S., Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia

    India by Royal Enfield

  2. #2
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    I shared a small apartment with someone who viewed Jeffrey Dahmer as a role model.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

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    I have not toured yet...

    But, I must say that I followed your trip with the VW! Thanks for keeping us updated on the trip!

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Well, the first thing I did was to get rid of the vehicle. Actually .... my ex husband got rid of the vehicle by totalling it, but I refused to replace it. Then I got rid of the husband. Doing both of those things freed up somewhere around $5000-7000 a year.

    That paid for several new bicycles, and a trip to England, and a trip to England and France to ride the PBP, and a trip to Australia to travel by bicycle for 3 months, and my software development certificate, and my first year's tuition at University, and a whole bunch of other stuff!

    As for some of the other things you mention ... I have always bought clothes very inexpensively - from used places or on 70% off sales at department stores or wherever. I don't cut my hair at all. I rarely eat in a restaurant, and if I do it is a place like Taco Time or Wendys. I also buy the least expensive food at the grocery store (stuff on sale or the grocery store's brand).

    I have always lived frugally ... that's the way I was raised.

    But I'll also add that in 2004, I made a decision to change my life drastically. So I sold, tossed, and gave away most of my stuff, packed up the little bit I had left (about 1/3 of what I started with) and put it into storage mostly in my parent's basement, and then went to Australia for 3 months where I learned to live out of a couple panniers.

    When I got back, I started University to get my degree. While I am in University, my plan is to slowly go through the rest of my stuff and see what else I can get rid of. When I'm done University, my plan is to pay off whatever I owe for tuition (shouldn't be much because I'm working my butt off while I'm in school), and then to start travelling and teaching.

    See ... when I realized that I wanted to break free from the Engineering office where I worked to see the world, I realized I would need some sort of employment to support me along the way. I've always wanted to teach, and teachers are welcome in many countries all over the world, so ......

  5. #5
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    i stopped drinking alcohol, eating out, and eating meat (mostly). That freed up a lot of money - especially the meat part. It's really amazing how much more expensive protein is if it's in animal form. I sold my car, live with housemates instead of alone, and buy all of my clothes from thrift stores. I don't get haircuts, buy furniture or electronic gadgetry - basically my only purchases are food, books, and bike gear. Whenever possible, I do my own work on the bike, though I know that I can't do it all yet. The first four are things I did recently, with an eye towards cycle touring, but like Machka I have always been frugal.

    It also helps a lot that I am in graduate school, and I can choose to take my fellowship in a 12 month disbursement instead of the 8 months I am in school. So I will have money coming in every month while I am on tour this summer.

    It's hard for me, now, not to just start throwing money at tour preparation. I have more money than I've ever had in savings, and it's so easy to justify an extra $20 here and there and everywhere, so long as it's for the tour!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    What a fascinating discussion!

  7. #7
    Tour de World SteveFox's Avatar
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    Well, in preparation for my upcoming tour, i have been working for the past 2 years, savnig what i can, but at the same time ive bought myself a house, a vehicle, furniture for my house, and filled it with appliances, and everythign ill need to live...of course, my house is a tent, my furniture is a lawn chair, a sleeping bag and a air matress, and my appliances consist of 4 bags, a little stove, and a water pump. everything that everyone else lives on, only smaller, and inside the 4 bags haha. All ive been doing in preparation for my trip is working really, since i live with my mom, dont pay rent as i just finished school and am leaving in 8 days, all i have to spend money on is my trip. its a pretty good life haha

    steve
    5 Days Till my Bike Trip
    Steve's World Bike Trip

  8. #8
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    Hate to say it people but I forgo nothing, I invest my money wisely, buy properties that pay me good return on investment etc. Read Robert Kiyosaki he jump started me and get out of the rat race as quick as possible, life is what you make of it no one owes you a living. I'm getting there day by day, I don't see why I should suffer for anything, make your mind up what you want and put it out to the world and ask for it. http://www.thesecret.tv/ this is awsome way of looking at life and the universe.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by challengea2z
    I don't see why I should suffer for anything,
    see, though, this isn't about "suffering." it's about realizing what's important, and realizing how much crap is unnecessary in this life. i don't "suffer" because i don't pay for haircuts, because i eat vegetarian, because i buy thrift-store clothes, and because i don't fill my house and life with useless commodities. in fact, i'm much happier. if i want a haircut i ask a friend, and they do a good job, and we banter and have fun while it's happening. it's fun to look for thrift store clothes. i'm not tied to a bunch of stuff that i've bought. i feel healthier because of my eating habits and biking/bussing/walking everywhere without a car. it's only nominally about saving for the trip at this point - now, it's a way of life, and i like it. i don't have debt that i have to work just to pay the interest on, because i don't own a house or car or jewelry or electronics that i can't afford and don't need. in fact, if i wanted to, i could just up and leave at any point with minimal fuss. there is such a phenomenal amount of freedom in being in that position. it's not suffering.. it's joy!

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Like srrs said, I do not believe for one minute that living frugally is suffering!

    I have been in a position where I could have purchased a car or expensive clothing, and eaten in expensive restaurants, and so on, but personally, I think of those things as a waste of money. I have other priorities which mean more to me.

    Also when I got rid of most of my stuff ... you would not believe the weight that was lifted off of me! I struggled with the idea of giving stuff up ... almost like giving away a security blanket or something .... but after I did, I felt so incredibly FREE!

  11. #11
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    Frugalists and VW fans

    Well, I don't exactly live in a packing crate. I seldom refuse to work any overtime, either. You Dave Ramsey fans will have broken the cycle of self-destructive spending by now, anyway. Keep the balance.
    VW Van enthusiasts should join us at BusesByTheBeach May 20th here in Grand Rapids. Many of us bring our bikes- the White Pine Trail linear park runs near our campsite on the river. George

  12. #12
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    Machka... sounds like you are ready for a world tour , I have also followed your frugal path and have discovered that all I want is what I have on a cycle tour and money of course ,I just returned from a 3 month tour of New Zealand and I am back at work ......looking at all the stuff left in my apartment..... and have started to throw that out , planning 3 trips ...circumnavigate Australia ,Katmandu to Shanghai and India to Istanbul , I am halfway around the planet and need to complete the rest before it is to late.
    eat sleep bike think dream

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueTwo
    Machka... sounds like you are ready for a world tour , I have also followed your frugal path and have discovered that all I want is what I have on a cycle tour and money of course ,I just returned from a 3 month tour of New Zealand and I am back at work ......looking at all the stuff left in my apartment..... and have started to throw that out , planning 3 trips ...circumnavigate Australia ,Katmandu to Shanghai and India to Istanbul , I am halfway around the planet and need to complete the rest before it is to late.
    Mentally, I am more than ready for a world tour ... or possibly even a "rest of my life" tour!!

    However, I do want to finish my degree before I head off, so that I can pick up work along the way. I've got 2.5 years of that left.

    I also want to get rid of more stuff, or decide what I want to do with it. There are still a few things I could probably part with without too much difficulty, but a lot of what I have left is the sentimental stuff which is a bit more difficult to just get rid of! But there was a show on TV (I don't know if it is still on or not because I don't get cable anymore) where a team of people would descend on a family up to their necks in clutter and clean everything up for them. One of the pieces of advice that a couple members of the cleaning crew gave, which I thought was excellent, was to take pictures of the sentimental stuff, which you don't really need anymore, then get rid of that stuff ... but you've still got the pictures to remind you of the memories associated with the items. I may do that with some of it. However, I've got 2.5 years to keep paring down and make all my decisions.

    When I toured for 3 months, I loved the aspect of living out of my panniers ... of being able to live quite comfortably with so little. I did discover that there were two things I would have liked out there though: 1. A better mattress ..... and so I bought a small thermarest (big difference!). 2) A sweatshirt, or something like that, for warmth ....... I tend to be cold when I ride, and then if I got into camp feeling cold, I just got colder as the night went on. It was sort of funny on my trip to Australia ... all the clothing I packed was black, blue, or yellow ... after 3 months of black, blue, and yellow, I started to long for something pink to wear. I don't normally like pink all that much, so I don't know what that was all about, but last fall I bought a sort of lavender/pink fleece-lined cycling jacket/jersey. I figured I have killed two birds with one stone ... I've got my sweatshirt-like thing to keep me warm, and it isn't black, blue, or yellow! Now I'm all set for another tour!

  14. #14
    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Then I got rid of the husband. Doing both of those things freed up somewhere around $5000-7000 a year.
    Ohh c'mon... I think you're lowballing us.
    Exorcising the male fascination with electronics alone has gotta be saving you a couple thou a year

  15. #15
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    When you plan the big tours it sometimes feels like the rest of your life,, as it is so hard to invision what life will be like at the end of the tour. When I got divorced I finally left with only with my bike and panniers , just headed off into B.C. ,,..left everything behind ,however I had already stopped caring about cars and other material things ,, felt kind of free and after a year and a half which included ,, a monster tour of B.C. and a circumnavigation of Europe ,I found myself working again and accumlating stuff again , but I have forced myself to constantly get rid of stuff. I found memories are stronger than stuff ,even pictures become hollow after a while. It is a lot like fire victoms ,those that have lost everything to fire , ..after that experience these people tend not to acquire much stuff ever again.
    Black ,blue or yellow .. there is enough black with bike shorts and tights and the bike equipment that I always go for other colours when off the bike like green blue red ,so that I look quite normal ,as if I was not on a bike,but I have noticed how colour sensitive I can get when travelling,New Zealand was so black even the cycling jerseys in bike stores were black or camfolage....and generally people in western culture cities seem to over wear black so any other colour is preferable.
    eat sleep bike think dream

  16. #16
    Fred E Fenders fthomas's Avatar
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    This has to be one of the more interesting threads I've read in a while. It coincides with a serious inner discussion I have been having about shedding the "Entrapments & Encumbrances" that I have accumulated over the years - material and mental.

    It would serve us all well to give it some careful thought!

  17. #17
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    I think giving up stuff can be good, and I am no money making genius. I cut the familly hair (4 women, god cut mine a long time ago), I'm cheap. On the other hand I'm undecided whether the operating principle in life is that there is a fixed amount of it and the only way to create future abundance is to restrict current consumption. There is a reason why guys are flashing past in SUVs I wouldn't accept as a gift, and some of them have ample free time. On a less commercial basis, there is a reason why you don't have to ration the weeds. On a more political basis there is a reason why many governments insist on rationing the seeds.

  18. #18
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
    Ohh c'mon... I think you're lowballing us.
    Exorcising the male fascination with electronics alone has gotta be saving you a couple thou a year

    Well ....... actually ........ I've got a bit of fascination with electronics myself. I purchased a brand new computer not long after we separated with all the bells and whistles of the time .... of course it is now about 5 years old, and definitely not cutting edge anymore. I'm reining in my desire to upgrade. This one is fine. It'll serve my purposes for now ... and when I do upgrade down the road a ways, I want to get something quite small and portable, but fairly powerful ... something I can take with me on tours, etc. By the time I want to do that, I'm hoping there will be something on the market that isn't too expensive.

    I also catch myself ogling things like MP3 players and ipods and digital cameras, etc. etc. ... small things which I could use when I cycle ........ so far, I've kept myself from rushing out and spending all sorts of money ... so far ....

  19. #19
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    I think giving up stuff can be good.
    Agreed, I'm not against material possessions, but sometimes they can really get in the way of the good life. One of the great things about a long tour is learning how much stuff you just don't need and how maintaining it all can be an absolute encumberance.
    Last edited by Blackberry; 04-23-06 at 06:07 AM.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueTwo
    but I have forced myself to constantly get rid of stuff. I found memories are stronger than stuff ,even pictures become hollow after a while. It is a lot like fire victoms ,those that have lost everything to fire , ..after that experience these people tend not to acquire much stuff ever again.
    See ... I've got two opposing forces within me. One is "The Packrat" and one is "The Desire For Freedom". For so many years I was a die-hard packrat ... I kept everything!! When I finally decided to change my life, my original plan was to sell some of the stuff which didn't mean a whole lot to me, and to go through a bunch of the stuff I'd accumulated over the years and see what I could toss or give away. And I was going to keep about half my stuff. Well, it turned out that my stuff wasn't as valuable as I thought, and so I had trouble selling it, although I did finally sell everything I had intended to sell, for much less than I'd hoped. Then on moving day, I was given the wrong sized van. So, there I was in the process of loading up this teensy moving van, and coming to the heart-breaking revelation that I couldn't take it all with me. Just then the charitable organization I had called, arrived to take one or two items which I had planned to give them ..... and at that moment I made the decision to give them a whole pile of other stuff, which I had been planning to keep. In a way, the suddenness with which I had to make that decision still bothers me, but in another way it was like I needed that in order to let go.

    Since then, the "furniture" I've purchased to replace what I sold or gave away has consisted of a couple of shelves, which can be dismantled and stored completely flat, and a stacked unit which can be taken apart into individual storage bins. Inexpensive portable pieces. And I really like them because they suit my purposes just fine, because I didn't spend much money on them, and because they'll be so much easier to move than most of the stuff I used to have!



    Quote Originally Posted by BlueTwo
    Black ,blue or yellow .. there is enough black with bike shorts and tights and the bike equipment that I always go for other colours when off the bike like green blue red ,so that I look quite normal ,as if I was not on a bike,but I have noticed how colour sensitive I can get when travelling,New Zealand was so black even the cycling jerseys in bike stores were black or camfolage....and generally people in western culture cities seem to over wear black so any other colour is preferable.
    Ah good, I'm not the only one!! That should be one of those touring tips .... if you're going on a long tour, bring an article of clothing that is bright and colorful and different with you.

  21. #21
    Member gemini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fthomas
    This has to be one of the more interesting threads I've read in a while. It coincides with a serious inner discussion I have been having about shedding the "Entrapments & Encumbrances" that I have accumulated over the years - material and mental.

    It would serve us all well to give it some careful thought!
    This topic has been recurring in the 'Living car free' forum. See e.g.

    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=163801

    I've never liked owning stuff and never liked cluttered rooms. It's just something in my temperament I guess. Useless things are ugly, no matter what they look like. I cannot really collect things, even if I try. I remember when I was a kid my friends would collect stamps or toys or comics or whatever it was. I would get three items and then get rid of them.

    Recently I've totally and completely lost any interest in browsing around in shops for clothes or electronics or such (bikes are a different matter!). I find watching people in shopping arcades a bit scary. You can tell that the thoughts and lives of a lot of young people completely revolve around playing the right role, by getting the right stuff.

  22. #22
    Ihaul
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    I have a problem that most or all of you don't have. I have a rubbish removal service. I not only have to control my own "stuff", but I constantly have to be careful how much stuff I save from jobs.
    Buz

  23. #23
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    No cell fone(y) save 50$ a month
    No Cable Tv save 65$ a month
    2 movies in the last five years
    No meat in diet, though do have a burger king maybe once a month
    Sat AM I head to an outdoor market and for 20$ get all the fruits and vegs I need for a week
    Don't by brand name ANYTHING
    1$ T shirt at local thrift stores 3 $ shorts,
    2 pr dress pants 10$ at Target
    Don't smoke, never did
    Don't drink, US beers are so insipid no taste and no flavor
    Bought an almost new TREK prob an older model called Multisport 700, not a bit of rust nor scrapes, original tires, pedals had no wear showing thrift store asked 65$ it had a flat tire lady said will u pay 35 I said yeh needed new chain and brake wires
    Am taking it to Spain next month

    The hardest part about saving is getting started. and then finding out all the ways to eliminate spending and discovering all the trash u really don't need, if u have stuff around the house u haven't used nor seen in 6 months toss it

    The hardest part about touring is the decision to go and the first morning on the road, everything else is downhill

  24. #24
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    I'm loving the introspection this thread is inspiring. I'm stuck in the rat race of suburbia where the houses are all nice, and everybody seems to be fine with their "keeping up with the Jones" mentality. I'd love to quit work (or retire) and ride or repair bikes every day. But the wife wants a beamer, and all 4 kids expect college tuition from me. (And I admit to a love of golf -- which has a zen all its own)

    Vacations hold no attraction since the family leans toward amusement park and sloth -- while all I want to do is hammer pedals (or pound golf balls) until exhaustion.

    Surely others must be stuck in a similar hole.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  25. #25
    Fred E Fenders fthomas's Avatar
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    A reason for being just moved today. My daughter, son-in-law and most importantly my grandson left S. Ca. for TN. This thread has been part confirmation and part inspiration for me! It has moved me far closer to making a transition to freedom.

    I for one would like to shed the entrapment(s) of "success" and redefine the term altogether. As we each strive for our purpose we must deal with external obligations and expectations imposed on us by others and come to terms with the reality that we signed up for the deal somewhere along the way.

    My grandson has taught me a completely new definition of joy! There isn't much greater inspiration than unconditional love and sharing the experience of riding with my grandson as he proudly rang his bell on his little red K2 with training wheels. Exclaiming to everyone we met: "Excuse me, do you want to see my new bike!" All of them that we met were captured by the simple joy of this little guy and took a minute to revel in the simplicity of a young boy’s enthusiasm and joy!

    Maybe we just need to look a little deeper into our selves, rid ourselves of the value judgements and labels, define our core motivations and discover the simple and less encumbered joy of just being. Next, share it with others without hesitation or judgement. A big heart and smile combined with some sincere interst in others really can set you free!

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