First things first...

Ben sets out his financial plan for ridding himself of his debts and saving enough money to fund his future adventures

Having never left Britain and hardly contemplated it before a couple of weeks ago, you can imagine that there is a huge array of things going round my mind on what the future may now hold - and believe me, it is very exciting...

For starters:
  • How long will I go for?
  • Where would I like to go?
  • Will I be a lone traveller or be venturing with others?
  • Will I work or volunteer as I go?
  • What will I need to do before leaving?
  • What will I need to pack and take with me?
  • How much money will I need?
  • And ultimately, when will I be able to go?
There are so many things to consider and I know that this list barely scratches the surface. But before getting caught up in the endless possibilities on the places to go, things to do, and stuff to see, I can confidently say that no matter how I go about it, I will need some money in order to do it.

So first things first, I need a financial plan. 

Based not on when I want to go or how much I want to go with, this financial plan is based on just two assumptions...
  1. No matter the type or duration of travel I end up taking, I am going to need money to do it; and
  2. I would like to begin this journey as soon as possible and am willing to be quite ruthless in my actions in order to achieve this.
...everything else I will want to consider can come later on.

And let's face it, all I really need to do it maximise my income and minimise my outgoings.

To do this effectively I think it is important to have a good grasp on the current state of my finances. That means looking at precisely what I have coming in and more importantly what I then have going out. From this I can then see what I can do to change these for the better.

Now this isn't something I am going to display here for several reasons, not least because it surely makes pretty poor reading material. So instead, I have set myself up the most thorough of spreadsheets for which the geek inside me is really very proud.

And it's strange. When you see everything broken down to the n'th degree right there in front of you, it becomes very clear, almost immediate in fact, where things need to change. 

Whilst I haven't set a date on when I would like to leave, I feel quite confident in saying that is going to take at least six months before I have enough money before I'd consider booking any flight. Therefore, any recurring expenditure, no matter how small, builds up quite significantly over a period of six months or a year.

For example, I spend perhaps £5 a week on nuts at the moment to have as a snack at work. Now each week that may not sound like much but its £20 a month and over a year its £240.

Now there are two clear points from this. The first is that we can wave goodbye to my nuts. Second, I am going to have to apply this principle to everything if this plan is to work. It is clear that whilst these changes are not going to be particularly enjoyable to implement over the coming months, they are a necessity if I am to rid this debt and build enough reserve to sustain the sort of trip that I would like to undertake.

Now if I didn't already sound like David Cameron trying to sell the idea of spending cuts, I will do after this - because cutting my expenditure is going to have to be "progressive". I say this because there are some outgoings, like accommodation, mobile phones and gym memberships which are tied in to contracts and so no matter what, until these expire, they must remain in place.

So here is an overview of my financial plan. I am going to maximise my income by: 
  • doing my utmost to keep my full time employment post;
  • looking for a part-time job to complement my full-time day job; and
  • selling the possessions that I will either have no need for or no longer want.
And to complement this, I am going to tightly regulate my outgoings by:
  • immediately reducing my direct debits where possible;
  • cancelling subscriptions and memberships when contracts are due for renewal;
  • keeping to a fixed weekly budget for anything that is not covered by direct debit such as food; and
  • keeping all 'other' expenditure to an absolute minimum.
And there we have it. Like I said, it is not going to be fun, and it is unlikely to be easy. But if it makes the difference between leaving in say six months and two years then it will most definitely be worth it.