I really love my change jar and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.
A lot of the little things in life that I enjoy are attached to that jar – but with no strings. Change jar money has always been “extra” money to me. It exists outside of my budget, because there’s no way of really knowing when it’ll be full. It’s a happy little container of Starbucks, movie tickets, and take out dinners.
About every other month or so, I wind up with a full jar and take it in to TD Bank (another one of the very few perks of banking with them) and dump it into the coin counter. Not gonna lie, I’m nearly 30 and I still love playing the guessing game. And winning a keychain sometimes.
I also love that I often think it will be less than it winds up being – I’m always pleasantly surprised when the total amount pops up on the screen.
So why has this been on my mind so much lately? I’ve been thinking more about my life goals and even my New Year’s resolution to cross two items off of my bucket list and I keep coming back to my “dream trip.”
My dream trip is my dad and me on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. A.) Because we don’t do a whole lot together and B.) He actually speaks Russian.
Also, my whole crazy desire for adventure definitely comes from him and not my mom. I suspect if I handed him the tickets to this trip, he wouldn’t say no.
I thought about this a few years ago when I was working for the cruise line with a lot of disposable income and no debt (so clearly before I went back to grad school). I calculated a rough number of the cost of the trip and realized it was not going to be an easy task getting there.
Time: 25 Days
- One Way Flight from New Jersey St. Petersburg: $1,500
- 2 Nights Hotel in St. Petersburg: $100
- 1 Tran-Siberian Railroad Ticket (w/ food and some tours): $3,500
- 3 Nights Hotel in Beijing: $75
- 2 Night Hotel in Xi’an: $25
- Roundtrip Flight: Beijing to Xi’an: $400
- One Way Flight from Beijing to New Jersey: $1,200
- Russian Visa: $270
- Chinese Visa: $130
- Food: $250
- Spending Money: $250
- Grand Total: Roughly $7,700
Granted, I could cut things out of this trip – we could skip everything related to Beijing and just go home at the end of the train run, but how on earth could we do that if we just made it to China for the first time?? And I really want to see the Terra Cotta Warriors, so that’s an additional $425 for the flight and hotel to see them.
On the flip side, when would we go back to China? We probably won’t. I’m saying “seize the day” with this trip. YOLO and all that. I’m taking a picture with some clay Warriors.
If this trip ever happens. I don’t know about you, but to me, $15,400 is nothing to sneeze at. And all on a single, month long trip.
But I really, really, really want to go. So I’ve started to think about it in terms of my change jar too.
This trip would only be: 61,600 quarters or 154,000 dimes or 308,000 nickels or 1,540,000 pennies.
I’m never going to ride that train.
Then again… there are a few things I’ve learned from this last year in the personal finance blogosphere.
#1 – I’m not paying for those flights. If I’m serious about this trip, I am reward card churning all 3 of those flights. And yes, I know that’s A LOT of miles. And a lot of purchases. So good thing I’m planning on saving up for 10ish years. At any rate, I’m not paying for all the flights. That’s for sure.
#2 – Also, since I’m planning to save up for 10ish years, that also makes it a mere $1,540 a year I need to save. That’s pretty do-able. That’s $128.34 a month. A lot – but lot’s of people pay that much for their cell phone or cable a month. I don’t.
Furthermore, if we subtract the flights, then it becomes $9,200 I’m saving. Which is only $920 a year and $76.67 a month.
This trip is suddenly becoming attainable.
#3 – If I average $30 every 3 months in the change jar, that brings me up to $120 a year. Over 10 years that’s $1,200 with no extra work from me. That means that I only need to work at saving up $8,000. Which is $800 a year and $66.67 a month.
$66.67 and a decade of patience could buy me my dream trip. And the gift of a lifetime for my dad. $133.34 could buy it in half a decade.
The point of this, other than to let me fantasize a little about how cool I think a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad would will be, is to point out that huge, insurmountable tasks can pretty much all be accomplished with a good plan, some time and a little creative thinking – I could easily add 10 more points about how to get to that goal quicker, I just focused on a few real easy ones.