This post is sponsored by Lexington Law Firm.
Having both roots and wings is what my life is all about, and it makes for a nice tagline. But practically? It’s not always the most sensible way to live. And financially, ff you aren’t careful, it can be a real credit mess toggling back and forth between homeowner and full-time employee to untethered, jobless nomad.
But there’s hope! Quitting your job, selling everything and going on the road doesn’t have to be financial suicide. If you’re considering going through a “wings” phase of your own, believe it or not there are steps you can take to continue creating a healthy fiscal situation for yourself, even if you aren’t working full time or actively building credit.
1. Don’t go into debt to travel.
This may be contrary to all the pretty Pinterest quotes out there that suggest you THROW CAUTION TO THE WIND AND FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS. Yeah, do that, but don’t go into debt for it. Work for a few years (I did 8). Save money (instead of buying shoes). And when you can afford to make your dream happen, THEN go do your dream. (But if you can’t resist buying those new shoes, run a fast check on couponing websites such as DontPayFull.)
Credit card debt is for suckers and I’m not even kidding.
2. Use a credit card on the road.
Isn’t this advice the opposite of what I just said?! Not quite.
When I first started traveling long-term and sold all my belongings to do so, I remember changing US dollars for local currency wherever I went. Now, sure, I’ll keep a little cash on hand, but in most places I just use a credit card.
They key to getting all the benefits out of a credit card is of course wrapped up in responsible spending and paying off your balance – every month if you can. When I traveled around the world, I chose a card with great travel benefits, included travel insurance and no foreign transaction fees. Why not earn money toward traveling while traveling?!
When you pay off the balance every month, your credit score only improves, so it’s an easy way to grow your financial reputation. When you come home, you have a great foundation. If you do it right, it’ll be like you never left.
3. Don’t bring all your credit cards with you.
I tell you this from experience. I wasn’t in Athens half an hour before my wallet was filched with all my cards, student ID and dive certification. Fortunately, I’d scanned copies of all of them and emailed them to myself so it was easy enough to cancel. BUT, if the person who pickpocketed me had been trying to steal my identity, I would have been in a world of trouble. I tell you that from experience, too. When I was robbed in San Francisco, the thief sold my info and my identity was stolen. It took a year to clean up my credit and was a huge nightmare. So protect yourself by only carrying what you need. And be wary of pick-pockets in Athens!
4. Monitor your credit on the road.
Just because you’re nomadic doesn’t mean you are on vacation from fiscal responsibility. I know, that’s the most boring and practical thing I’ve ever typed, but it’s true. You can check out this IdentityForce review if you need somewhere to start. Check your credit score every month or two just to make sure nothing peculiar has popped up. Letting it go while you galavant for a year will only make re-entry more difficult.
5. Set up auto-pay for bills.
An easy way to wreck your credit is to make late payments, be it on credit cards or student loans or whatever. And it’s super easy to forget what day it is when you’re traveling long-term, so even if you’re the most responsible person back home, when you’re surfing in Bali, paying bills is the last thing on your mind. When I was on the road, I made sure all my bills would pay themselves just in case I was preoccupied and didn’t have time to stop and think about finances. (And I always was! Isn’t that the point of traveling?!)
While we’re on the topic of finances, check out Lexington Law, sponsors of this post and trusted leaders in credit repair. Check out their services here and see if they might be able to help you have a roots and wings lifestyle.