January 27th, 2012
What a Walk in Spain Taught Me about Money
3 Comments |
Eight years ago, I walked 500 miles across the Northern Spain countryside on a pilgrimage whose route dates back to medieval times.
For five weeks, I woke up in a bunk room full of college pals and a professor, laced up my Gore-Tex hiking boots, heaved my pack onto my back, and stepped into the cold, Spanish winter to walk an average of 18 miles.
I learned a lot about life on that trip that now translates to smart money lessons in my life today.
There’s a lot of “stuff” we don’t need.
Walking the Way of Saint James, you carry your life on your back, from your clothing to your food. After walking a few days, we realized we were all carrying too much unnecessary stuff. So we loaded the excess into a box, shipped it off to our final destination, and carried on with much lighter loads.
I still have too much stuff, but I’m learning when and where to curb my spending habits. I plan out most shopping trips, or open a savings account to stash away funds for a particular splurge.
Sometimes, our feet are the best mode of transportation.
I still have the hiking boots I wore for those 500 miles. And, after nearly a decade, they still fit perfectly. My feet carried me all the way across a country; why can’t they carry me a couple of miles to the store?
These days, I have it easy. I live in downtown San Francisco, where restaurants and markets reveal themselves at every corner. But it’s still tempting to hop on my scooter, catch the bus, or hail a taxi. So I force myself, every other day, to walk to work. I get exercise and have time to enjoy the ambience of the city.
Making your own lunch is usually cheaper.
Spanish cuisine is some of the best in the world. But I quickly realized on my pilgrimage that I would deplete my food budget by purchasing three meals a day. When I came across a food market, I would buy food that could easily be carried, like bread, cans of tuna, spreadable cheese and jam. My little hoard made for many a tasty roadside sandwich.
Lunch in San Francisco is never cheap, so I regularly brown-bag it. The savings allows me to treat myself to a lunch date with a friend every so often.
Patience is key.
One particularly frustrating day, I charged ahead of my walking companions because I wanted to get to the next town as soon as possible. I came upon a creek and hastily attempted to cross on what appeared to be a log, but what was actually just a floating branch. My foot slipped and I stepped right into the cold water. My punishment? I had to sit on a stump in my bare feet waiting for my boots and socks to dry, watching my companions pass me by.
Now, I would love to have so many things: a house, a dog a big savings account. But these things can’t all happen at once. For now, I’m working on the savings account and I know that patience will help me to stay sane in the process.
Memories are free.
I have over four hours of video footage from my time in Spain. My companions and I passed around a small video camera to document our walk, film the countryside, talk about experiences, and generally goof off. I have tangible souvenirs from that trip, too, but my favorite is the footage that I re-watch each year on the anniversary of the completion of my pilgrimage.
I’ve always been a big fan of photos as a way to remember vacations and good times, and that continues to be true. I may not have a refrigerator full of souvenir magnets from trips, but I do have thousands of free photos that make me smile.
What past experiences have taught you the most about money?
Bethy Hardeman, Social Media Maven
Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.