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To travel or to save? How to end the dilemma

Theresia Clara
Theresia Clara

Loves dancing, traveling, writing, fashion and photography

Kuala Lumpur  /  Wed, December 5, 2018  /  12:55 pm
To travel or to save? How to end the dilemma

To travel or to save? It’s a question many people have, especially when it’s the holiday season and airlines are offering special prices. (Shutterstock/Jacob Lund)

To travel or to save? It’s a question many people have, especially when it’s the holiday season and airlines are offering special prices.

If you’re an office worker who wasn’t born with a silver spoon, it’s normal to think that it’s better to save for emergencies and retirement than to travel. However, what if you’re born with a strong sense of wanderlust and traveling is considered a need?

I personally don’t want to live in resentment. Chasing my dream keeps me motivated and passionate in life. After all, what’s the purpose of saving all that money if I’m going to die tomorrow?

When I decided to embark on my first trip to Turkey, I was too young to think about emergency funds or retirement. I chose to travel over saving.

However, as I grew older, I realized there are a few things that freed me from the dilemma. Believe me, it’s not following the YOLO (you only live once) motto.

Saving and investing let me travel without guilt

I don’t feel guilty whenever I buy a return flight ticket or book a dream trip because I’ve put aside some money for saving and investing every month. Honestly, I spent more money on travel than what I have in my bank account, but I have no regrets. You may think that it’s not a wise action, but at least I’m not stressing myself.

Try to count how much money you should have to be able to retire comfortably, plus inflation. Unless you earn a lot monthly, the amount that you’ve saved may still not be enough even if you don’t travel. Why live in resentment?

I got to know about investment not long ago from my best friend. She shared how her diligence in investing for 20 years finally came into fruition, enabling her to buy a new condo and a new car.

When it comes to investing, I feel that it’s best to invest in something that you fully understand, else you’ll get burnt.

Read also: Google's new travel tools already know what you did next summer

Mutual fund or stock?

For beginners who have no clue or interest about investments but still want to invest (like me), a mutual fund is a safe option. You’ll have an experienced fund manager to take care of your fund, so you don’t have to do your own research.

The only thing that I regret is not investing earlier.

I suggest you engage a financial manager or consultant, so he/she can select a good performing fund for your investment. Be careful not to simply choose a fund yourself if you have little knowledge because that fund may not do well.

When you invest in a mutual fund, you can choose the interest rate and risk that you’re willing to take. It’s a long-term investment, not something that you can enjoy soon.

If you’re willing to take the risk for a faster return of investment, you can invest in stocks. Investing in stocks requires a lot of your time because you need to analyze the company and market trend, as well as other economic issues.

Another downside is that if you make the wrong decision and lose your money, you may be hard on yourself because you’re the sole decision maker. However, if you’re really good at it, you can get rich way sooner than investing in mutual funds.

The key here is to diversify your funds or stocks, so when one investment tool isn’t performing well, you still have another one that generates profit.

If you travel often, perhaps you can compromise with your savings or investing habit to feel less guilty. For example, if you’re going to travel five times in a year, then you have to top up your monthly savings or investment by (insert your commitment).

My ‘invisible armor’ keeps me going

My “invisible armor” is health insurance. Some people think that health insurance is a waste of money, but to me, it gives me the freedom and confidence to live my life. I can travel wherever I want, do extreme activities and enjoy life without worrying if I have enough money if something happens.

There’s a history of cancer in my mother’s side of the family, thus I chose a health insurance that also offers protection against medical issues specific to women, like cancer (breast, cervix, ovary, uterus and so on). The best thing is, my insurance will also cover the medical costs if I’m diagnosed with the illness. I don’t have to have stage 4 cancer to be financially covered.

Read also: Eight steps to become an eco-conscious traveler

Keep the passion burning

You’re also not a cat who has nine lives. You have only one life; make the most of it. When I tried to suppress what made me excited about life, like traveling, I lost that “sparkle” in me. I realized that traveling is an expensive hobby, thus it challenged me to think of a way to fund my travel and still have some for my savings and investment.

I passionately typed lots of articles every weekend for more than a year to get extra income. From the outside, I was a cave girl who didn’t enjoy the weekend and socializing. I just kept going until I reached the goal. There are good and bad things about this though, which I’ll share with you one day in another post.

Remember, if the situation isn’t favorable for you to travel, do something to change it. Life is too short to live on “autopilot”. If it’s out of your control, learn to let it go; take something positive from it and move on.

I don’t regret that I have spent a lot on travel, but in the future, I’ll be more careful. The only thing that I regret is not investing earlier. (dev/kes)


Clara loves dancing, traveling, writing, fashion and photography. She’s also an avid practitioner of the FIRE movement and believes people can travel the world yet still be financially responsible. Check out her blog

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.