Money·4 min read

Skimm Money: Mindful Spending, Extended Vacays, And AI Assistants

Claire Zhu free advice headshot
March 31, 2023

Free Advice

Sometimes, you just need to get OOO. Claire Zhu did just that by taking a year-long break from her 9 to 5 and traveling the world with her boyfriend Peter Ovendorf. Now, she’s spilling the details on how they saved up for their mini-retirement, which they’ve since extended.

How did you save up enough to take so much time off?

After we decided on a budget, we committed to saving for two years. We worked full-time but did everything we could to cut costs. Like carpooling, walking, or taking public transit to work and having roommates. We enjoyed low-cost activities, like hiking, and cut down on non-essentials like eating out. I also picked up an additional revenue stream by selling artwork on the side. At the time, these felt like big sacrifices, but we would do it again in a heartbeat!

How did you budget for unexpected costs?

Life happens, and this is something we definitely factored in. We built small road bumps — a missed bus, a forgotten valuable, or a hidden tourist fee — into our original travel budget. We paid for larger, unexpected expenses (like a hospital visit or an unexpected flight home) from our emergency savings, which is something we would not have left on our gap year without.

Top tips for keeping your spending in check while traveling?

1. Move slower and hit fewer places. It’s the best way to save. The faster you travel, the faster you rack up transportation expenses.

2. Eat and travel like a local. Local buses and trains will get you to your destination at a fraction of the cost. Same goes for local food, it's almost always cheaper. Plus, some of the best meals of our entire lives were less than a few bucks per plate.

3. Avoid peak season and local holidays. Unless you’re there to celebrate. This will help you get reasonable hotel rates.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Money Win

“I kept holding out for the ‘right’ job, even though I was miserable at my current one. Then, I got a call from a headhunter about a job running a public affairs/comms department for a social impact company. So far, it's my dream job! It came with a 30% salary increase, a month of vacay, and some serious investment perks. So glad I waited for the right one.”

— Elaine D (VA). Move over, rage applying. Slow and steady job hunting can pay off, too.

For the Group Chat

For “Zoom town” workers…

Layoffs can be extra challenging.

What's the hot, new investment?

Hint: It's not Bitcoin.

Want to make work less boring? 

Get an AI assistant.

In the US, getting sick can cost $$$…

Here’s what to do the next time you get a medical bill.

Investment Piece

Trinity Mouzon Wofford investment piece headshot

Is there anything better than a good night’s sleep? Trinity Mouzon Wofford, founder of the superfood company Golde, doesn’t think so. Ahead, she details a purchase that’s sure to help you snag some ZZZs. 

Tell us about a recent purchase that felt like an investment.

I recently bought a new duvet cover from Coyuchi. Bed optimization is really important to me. My husband and I co-sleep with our seven-month-old daughter, so we spend a lot of family time in bed together. When you're battling a sleep regression that has you up every hour, good bedding makes a difference.

How much did you spend on it? 

$398, plus tax and shipping.

Why do you consider it a worthy investment?

It's 100% organic cotton and extremely comfy. I also love the ethos of the business.

Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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