By Lisa Boonstoppel-Pot
Financial podcaster Jessica Moorhouse says everyone should be tracking their spending and setting aside a fund to cover expenses in case of emergency. You can read her financial advice in this issue.
Another financial guru, Bruce Sellery, asks this simple question: “Why are you making money?”
For me, Moorhouse’s advice connected to Sellery’s question in terms of travel ... read on.
First, Sellery’s question: one answer is we NEED to make money. We have to house, feed and clothe ourselves and even if you are incredibly handy, you’ll need money for at least one of the three. Most of us strive to make extra money beyond survival. What for? Sellery called it the “context of making money” and suggested some people make money for security, to educate their children, to create a family legacy (such as a farm), to donate or perhaps just for prestige.
The underlying “why” isn’t always easy to answer. Why do I make money? Certainly, Farm Credit Canada wants me to make money to pay my farm mortgage. And having six kids has been an expensive endeavor (totally worth it). However, the reason I write, have a business and pick up side jobs to make money is because I want both security AND experiences. Outdoor sports, horses, large gardens or daytripping with family costs money. International travel is also high on my list.
So to make sure I can afford those experiences, I created a travel fund (along with an emergency fund). Every month, a set amount is transferred from my chequing account to this travel savings account and it slowly but surely adds up so that every other year, there are sufficient funds for an international experience. It works so well that if I were a financial guru, I would combine the advice from Moorhouse and Sellery and suggest everyone create a “life goals” account. Life goals can differ but travel is on my list because it’s a crash course in personal discovery, self-sufficiency, history, business and creativity.
I just returned from a trip to Holland with my father and sister, a trip that gave me a deeper sense of my Dutch roots by connecting with family and exploring the area where my father was born and raised. As sisters, we laughed out any stress we were carrying while also testing the virtues of patience and tolerance. We grew as family members and people, feeling rejuvenated by the kindness and companionship of relatives and the wonder of connection that you feel with family, even ones you haven’t seen for decades. These “strangers” become friends and life becomes richer.
Travel is educational. A trip to the Rijksmuseum provided views and history lessons via the paintings of Dutch artists Vermeer and Rembrandt who captured both simple moments and historical events. It also exposes you to how other people live, eat, work and live their daily lives. In Paris, we saw families spread out their blankets along the Seine and eating a meal at midnight! In this city that never sleeps, we witnessed a whole new way of living from our personal routines and this was both exciting and challenging.
As you explore other countries, you are exposed to ideas that fire up your creativity. My Uncle has built a simple wooden structure on his house to grow grape vines which then unfurl into a natural shade system over a hot deck. For a gardener, the beauty and practicality of this idea struck me as perfect for my own house and thus, an exciting new project will soon be launched.
Cultural dishes expand food repertoires while walking and cycling stretch your muscles.
Your personality unfolds as you travel and re-discover yourself. In practicing my poor Dutch and talking with strangers, I gained confidence in my ability to connect with people by using questions to discover what makes them tick. From a Parisian Uber driver, to an old man at Kinderdijk who walks across the world to two British girls standing in the line at the Schiphol airport, I met people who expanded my views and cemented the value of connection.
Nature and animals make my soul sing and there is such joy to be had in discovering beautiful places. On one bike ride, I rode with a canal on one side and black and white sheep on the other, both flowing by in peaceful perfection. Walking near Hoorn, I found two fat Kune Kune pigs who lumbered to the corner of the fence for a free scratch on their fleshy backs. These were simple moments but they felt magical.
The best part of travel is coming home feeling tired, for sure, but so inspired and bigger with possibilities, feelings, connections and joy!
All this makes travel a terrific bang for the buck, in my opinion. It’s one of the reasons I work hard to make money.
Why do you? ◊