The Sole Sister's Guide to Saving Up for Your Escape Fund

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Piggy savings bank
Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver
Es·cape Fund

1. A reserve account used in order to quit your day job and figure out what you want to do next (e.g. travel) 
2. The calculation of how much you spend each month multiplied by the number of months you'll need to survive without income. Tervooren
3. The amount of money you need to save in order to escape the cubicle and become location independent.

We all want to escape right? It doesn't matter if you're trying to escape a dead end job, a slave driver boss, or simply a mundane existence. But what's true for everyone is that we can't do that without saving up for an escape fund.

There are a lot of myths that surround the escape fund. Like the myth that you need an insane amount of money to hatch your escape or that it will take you ages to save up. Or that you need insanely rich parents who can bankroll your spending until you figure out what to do with your life. And the smallest but most vicious myth: I don't earn enough money to save up for an escape fund.

Everyone and I mean everyone can come up with an escape fund. Even shopaholic party girls like my sole sister Chichi. All it takes is a bit of sacrifice and a lot resourcefulness. So we've come up with 10 surefire ways for you to start saving money to fund your own escape.

Here are the first 5. Chichi's saving up (pun intended) for the rest of Part 2!

1. Pencil Pushing 
Mike Rohde's Custom Moleskine Planner

The first step and probably as appealing as swallowing a frog in the morning. This entails writing all your daily expenses and keeping track of where your money goes. There were 2 things I had working against me on this one:

First, I abhor math and second, I hate routine.

But I pushed myself to record my expenses on a little notebook to figure out what areas I can cut back on. I realized that my budget mainly went to rent, transportation and food.

Taking a cab everyday to and from work cost me 200PHP (about $5). Not a lot. But if you multiply that by 20 days of work each month, that adds on to 4,000PHP! More than half my rent! I had to find a way to minimize this immediately. Which brings me to the next step:

36/365: An' the BOXES'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
Photo Credit: Betssss
2. I like to Move It Move It

In order to save on transportation costs, I had to look for a place much closer to work. The closer the better. And boy, did I get lucky! I found a place 7 minutes away from work. On foot!

That meant I could eliminate that 4,000PHP cost completely and deposit that amount in full towards my escape fund! For those who don't have this alternative, consider moving in with a roommate or moving back with the parents. Just remember it's going to be temporary and will get you closer to your escape.

3. Say no to Frapuccinos!
Photo Credit:
Elena Pérez Melgarejo
The 'frapuccinos' are symbolic here. It can be any of the usual luxuries that you enjoy but won't die from lack of. Case in point: Chichi loves her daily dose of Stabucks grande soy no-whip extra-hot Caramel Macchiatto. A grande only costs about 165PHP, not much really. But if you drink this everyday, like my caffeine-addicted sole sister, it adds up to a whole lot of moolah. Needless to say, someone missed out on her daily Starbucks habit for the past few months. Chichi has been subsisting on the free brewed coffee from the office vendo machine instead.

You may also need to say no to cigarettes, partying, weekly massages and pedicures. You don't have to eliminate them completely. The key is cutting back.

shopaholic girls paper dolls
Photo Credit: kirakirahoshi
4. Shopaholic Rehab 

Sole Sisters, this is the toughest challenge yet. You have to stop shopping. And you have to do it cold turkey. No more cheap purchase excuses! Buying stuff just leads to the need for more stuff and more costs.

Case in point: You just bought a new bag. But you also need to get the shoes, the belt, the perfect outfit and accessories to match it. And to think it all just started with one purchase! If you seriously want to be one more peso closer to your escape, you have to stop buying stuff you don't need.

5. Take the Buddy Challenge

Photo Credit: RusselCP

It's been really difficult for me to start saving at first. It got a little easier when I opened a separate bank account. That way, I saw money coming steadily and I knew exactly what it was for - my escape. But I really built momentum when Chichi and I decided to challenge each other.

Since we opened separate bank accounts, we would check each other passbook to see who was ahead of the game. We made bets as to who would have more money each month. Whenever she would want make a new purchase, I would have to keep her in check and remind her: The more we spend here, the less we get to spend elsewhere. She was also accountable for my spending. Whenever I would go on trips abroad, she would remind me to spend wisely and stick to my budget. It was fun for both of us because we're so competitive and enjoy friendly banter.

Have I encouraged you enough to start your own escape fund? If 1-5 of this guide is not enough, read tips 6-10 on part 2 of this series. If you have any tips you would like to share, please leave a comment below. We love sharing with you!

Sole Sister Lois

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45 sole trails

  1. goodjob girls... awesome ways to save money...

  2. love it! :D thanks for the tips!

  3. the buddy challenge really works. astig tips! i like the term escape fund. first to heard about it here.

  4. I used to think that writing down every expense was stupid but I did it for a week while saving for my trip and was amazed at how many things I was wasting money on.

  5. great tips here! the office is a 10-minute walk but I only walk from the office back to where I stay as it's too hot and I don't want to end up sweaty. It's a challenge especially if you're wearing formal clothes. good thing my department is a bit flexible so most likely it's casual days everyday. hehe.

    We don't like the food at our pantry and my friends usually envy the food that I bring (mostly stir-fried veggies) to work. What I do is have the food prepared in batches so I can also sell them to officemates. That way, I won't have to spend a dime on lunch, I even get to earn some cash for the same sinking fund!

    I agree with clothes, I don't shop in here in our country anymore (except when necessary) as I realized that clothes outside are way cheaper! haha.

    will make this type of list in the future, Lois. thanks for sharing yours! :D

  6. I bring baon everyday so I can save at least P80 for my lunch in the office!
    (and yes, I cut my Starbucks too, diet kasi ako, I avoid gourmet coffees muna) hihi

  7. :( no starbucks, no ciggy! i'm going to die! amazing tips you guys! :D

  8. Buti na lang pala, di ako mahilig sa kape, sa shopping at yosi, photography gear lang major bisyo hahahah, kaya wala pa rin ipon :) ( i'll start doing tip number one as well, great ideas girls!)

  9. congrats to ate chichi for keeping off from starbucks! hahahaha!

    "You have to stop shopping. And you have to do it cold turkey. No more cheap purchase excuses! Buying stuff just leads to the need for more stuff and more costs." but ate chi-chi wants a killer sandals! ahahaha!

    me i'm gonna quit my urban lifestyle and go back to my provincial one. that would definitely cut the cost 100%. weeee...

  10. Great tips girls! I stumbled upon similar tips when I was saving up for my first trip, and instead of sucking it up and sacrificing a lot of things (which I really should do, especially now) I went on an even crazier shopping spree (that's the time I started collecting dolls).

    Sooo... instead of saving up, decided to earn more. That one worked out better for me XD

    But I think I'll give these tips another try... gotta save up for that big trip ;)

  11. galing, lois ann. i tried #1 before and i agree, it does work. got tired though of doing that, but i think i'll be doing it again now. i'll work on 1 and 3 for now. 2 and 4 aint a problem, and i'll see if i can convince prydex for #5.

    how's india?

  12. Thanks lip! Watch out for part 2 next week ;)

  13. Let us know how it goes, Lette!

  14. It really does work, Dom! As of today, Chichi is winning the bet :p

  15. Although it's boring, this exercise will really show where most of your money is going. We totally agee Ayngelina!

  16. You're as lucky as Lois then when it comes to location. Walking to and from the office NOT only saves money but it's good exercise too.

    Great idea on selling food at the office Ed!

    Please share your tips with us once it's done, we'd love to read it.

  17. Chichi fixes a salad or sandwich for baon to work everyday as well (well, almost everyday). Good point on the coffe Chyng. Cutting back means less expenses and less calorie-intake too!

  18. We were thinking you'd react to the no starbucks and ciggies, Monette. We were right!

  19. Let us know how you're doing with tip#1 Claire. Oh and watch out for part2. You can actually earn from overspending on camera gear ;)

  20. Spot on! You have Chichi totally figured out Edwin! Watch out for she saved up on part 2.

    Going provincial eh? Sounds fun and oh so liberating. We heard that you pulled a 'sole sisters' and quit your job too. Apir! Good luck on plannign your escape. Care to share with us what your plan is?

  21. You're one of the lucky few who found a job to compensate or crazy shopping sprees and traveling, Nina. Mabuhay ka!

    Can't wait to read about what your big trip is. We have a hunch what it is.

  22. Say no to Frapuccinos! -cant agree more. symbolic nga sya, i still remember my students flaunting their frappes on a cold morning in the cold bus. WTH!

    nice tips, will share!

  23. Gow gow gow Paulie! Yeah, I know you can also be very competitive so number would be great!

    India is a complete sensory overload. I've been so excited and positive since I started the trip. But I have to admit. Today was tough. We have to travel for 3 days straight on overnight buses and trains, no hotel stopovers. Travel is slowly taking a toll on me.. But I know one cup of chai (milk tea yum!) will do the trick.

    I miss you!

  24. Yeah, a nescafe would give you the same caffeine fix ;-) Thanks, please share your tips as well!

  25. Solesisters!!! Thank you very much for answering my question. Hulog ng langit ang blogpost na ito! Kasi kelangan ko mag-ipon, I guess 3 to 5x pa nito para naman maka-visa ako.

  26. Kaso uwian ako sa Cavite. I have to have my own laptop and internet connection before I move out of the office. I also have other plans like going for my masters or school.

  27. Nice post Lois. Nakarelate ako sa first. I have an excel file that lists how much I have been spending every day down to the last centavo and it really is effective. I also learned a lot from the other 4 tips. Thanks for this post. :)

  28. Hi! Awesome last tip, I'd have to find someone who's as addicted to travelling as me! And I've been meaning to write down my expenses but I guess I'm too lazy or something. This reminded me to get back right to it. Good luck on your next trip!

  29. I started and maintain a small fund for any traveling I want to do. I keep it around in case I want to go anywhere on a moment's notice. At first, it was hard to cut back on spending, but once you start seeing the money pile up and that trip gets closer, it becomes easier.

  30. hahaha. yeah i did the 'sole sisters' act... i'm planning to follow journeyingjames footsteps; i'll roam the country with a backpack and nothing more. i'm envious of you guys you could leave the country. me i can't, i don't have a passort. lol. and i'm lazy to get one, i hate papeles...

  31. Glad we could help Bernie! Everyone can save. We just need to be motivated.

  32. It's just harder to do it while on the road Josiah. I make sure I keep track of expenses. Kahit mga street food trip!

  33. Thanks fir dropping by Faith, Keep it up. It's hard at first but the payoff is great.

  34. Good for you Steve! I agree, seeing the money pile up is motivation enough. Where are you off to on your next trip?

  35. girls! you're both awesome goddesses of travel-and-thrift! i have been meaning to have an escape fund (i called it Project Fund [*grin* sounds lousy]) the past year and have never had the will AND inspiration to start saving up.

    thanks to you both! for being the long-missing muse on this saving adventure... i'm taking the first step today... to Macau, Thailand and Vietnam...

  36. That's great Jules! I hope you continue to be inspired. Traveling has really given me so much perspective about spending. It helps that India is so cheap! I am seriously living in India on a 2 frapuccino per day budget!

    You go girl!

  37. hi there sole sisters! paul of ekstranghero mentioned your site and i read some of your entries. kakatuwa! :)

    when paul told me you quit your job to travel, one word: inggit! he he! i wish i could do the same. but with one mouth to feed and send to school, i am not that brave. if only i were single. now, i just make do with whatever is given me. i am actually fortunate to be able to travel at times and "keep my job." [keeping my fingers crossed.]

    anyway, just to share my thoughts on the topic of this post [which i do find informative], I live first by one rule when it comes to finances, that is, "live below your means." when you follow this, everything else [travel, savings, investments] will come through. and this means no unnecessary expenses, not lavish purchases. make this the first rule and you won't go wrong. :)

    looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  38. Hi Kumareng Grace! I love that tip, Living below your means. I'm sure I will use that in the future. I have been doing that in the 1 year that I saved up for our Asian jaunt. It was difficult at times but I know that I value experiences more than possessions. Thanks again for sharing!

  39. Thanks po sa tips.. I guess I need to earn also for my trips. hehe. Kaso mahirap talaga. Even though alam kong nauubos na, tuloy parin ang gastos. Sa pagkain lang naman nauubos. I hope I can do the tips you said. crossed fingers*


  40. You can do it Zhian! You have to attend our next travel talk session on Sept 15. We'll give you more tips on how to spend less to travel more!

  41. hi! i am also starting my escape fund for my indochina 2012. I will now open a separate bank acct for this. I dont intend to quit my job though. I hope to be able to fit everything in 6 weeks. is it possible for you to give me an idea how much was your target amt for your 6 month trip? Thanks!:)

  42. Hi Ice, our target was 100,000PHP and that was enough to cover 6 months in SE Asia. I hope you continue with the savings. Share your plans with family and friends so they can support you by donating or by holding you accountable and making sure you meet your goals.

  43. Just the advice I need! Gah! I need to save na. Now!;D

  44. I have funded my travel using the 'pay yourself first' theory. You pretend that you are just another bill to pay along with rent, electricity, petrol etc and put a certain amount aside each week. It is amazing how disciplined you have to be to pay 'bills' when you have to. My next trip is to take my daughter to Japan for her 18th.

  45. Thanks for sharing that pay yourself first tip! Wow! Japan sounds awesome! Can't wait to make it out there myself especially now that they have opened up more to neighboring Asian countries. Enjoy bonding with your daughter!


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