Finances are an important part of life in general. Finding the right balance of life’s comforts and working to provide for those things is a personal journey we all must take. There are world schoolers living a posh life and others living very minimalistic as well as everything in between. There is no right way to do it. It depends on your income, earning potential, savings and wants/needs.
Never let finances be a reason you don’t World School. World School is simply learning by engaging the world around you, so your current finances that are sustaining you wherever in the world you are will suffice. Go out, explore, and learn. World School does not dictate that you travel, but often new environments and new cultures are very rewarding aspects of the educational process. Of course, when we add travel expenses to the budget, that needs to come from somewhere.
Economics are broken down into Income and Expenses. These need to balance or be net positive in order to be a sustainable plan. If those are net negative, you will need to find a way to make a supplemental income, decrease expenses, or you may have a self-limiting trip, say one year, where you spend what you’ve saved, then return to your home country (or get a work visa elsewhere) to work again.
Income can come from many places. Often people have saved for years with anticipation of departure. But others have simply departed and find a way to pay as they go. Here is a comprehensive list of ways to fund your travel experiences. But be realistic about it. Wherever you are, life is generally similar. You’re more likely to be able to get a job if you have a particular degree or set of skills that a company needs. Find out what makes you special and indispensable to a company. Do you have a degree? Work experience in particular field? A life experience that makes you uniquely qualified for a particular position? You need to sell yourself when you find the position that you really want. One that gives you the pay you will need and the location independence you desire.
As important, or arguably more important, than income is expenses. While most people tend to focus on income and how to make it, many fewer people pay attention to the fact that they can control their expenses and thus the need for income is minimized. Often times, this is the factor that is most controllable. People tend to live at the edge of their means, but cutting back on expenses will enable more freedom and flexibility, as well as longevity, in your lifestyle. Are you burning money on expensive habits? Are you living beyond your means?
Personal expenses can vary widely based on priorities. Most industrialized nations are heavily focused on consumerism. Often World School families have shifted these priorities by increasing value given to life experiences and decreasing value to creature comforts and modern conveniences. By cutting expenses, people find their budget goes a lot farther and their need to work becomes less. Often they are OK without the comforts because they are fulfilled by rich experiences. But even among minimalists, this balance varies. Whether free camping by sleeping on the ground in a cave with no utilities or couch surfing or living in an RV, some people prefer their own beds, their own space, and a place to cook. Some people value the culinary experience and are willing to pay more for locally prepared foods, others value activities and will pay a local to take them SCUBA diving in the best places. Some people value a good night’s sleep as this enables them to engage the world fresh and revived and are willing to pay to upgrade their accommodations to improve their experience. Priorities vary by family and even by location.
Some locations are more expensive than others also, so this is another consideration in your planning. When you are in an industrialized location, it’s very hard to save up money because the cost of accommodation, transportation, food, insurances, and other expectations are much higher. When you are in an economically depressed area, it’s hard to find gainful employment, but the cost of living is easier to absorb. The best balance is if you can have an income from an industrialized nation, but use it to support yourself in a low cost economic area. This requires an income which is location independent and often requires some planning and organizing.
Throughout this site, we will explore the details of personal finance as it relates to World School, both income and expenses. Check out the financial related blog posts for real data from traveling families.