VOICES: A Globetrotter’s Perspective on Saving Money and Travel
Troy spent his time working overseas and living an unconventional life.
Troy has led quite a colorful life, spending his time traveling and working overseas. Coming from the Bay Area, he has a strong knack for teaching and has taught English in Hong Kong. He was also in New Zealand on a working holiday, tending to alpacas, bottling wine in Blenheim, and doing strenuous agricultural work.
In late 2019, he came back to the Bay Area and accepted a Project Coordinator role at a marketing logistics company, only to be laid off a couple months in the midst of COVID-19. At the moment, he is getting his Master’s of Library & Information Science and teaching English online.
*Name is altered to protect identity.
Interview with Troy:
You lived an unconventional life. I’d say daring even. What was the pivotal moment you realized this is what you wanted?
It was when I studied abroad in Hong Kong. I was living in a different country and felt like there was more to life than what was in my immediate vicinity. HK exposed me to a lifestyle that I didn't know existed; I didn’t know what a hostel was until I was 20. I met European friends who taught me how isolating the US can be in terms of travel, whereas my friends were traveling and experiencing different cultures.
I got the travel bug and I never saw myself in a pre-built career path. Like my east coast friends, they wanted to work for a big company, work for X amount of years, and then move onto another role. A lot of my jobs were not full-time; I worked multiple part-time jobs to match my nomadic lifestyle. I wanted my travel experiences to be authentically me and to live as a “local.”
My advice: don’t chase Instagram pictures. Choose an authentic way that you want to live.
What was your saving strategy while working overseas? How were you able to travel for so long?
In Hong Kong, my saving strategy was that I would keep ⅓ as savings, ⅓ as living expenses, and ⅓ as regular costs. In New Zealand, I was more frugal, living in a mentality of scarcity. My jobs were short term and would end in weeks sometimes. It was dictated by the seasonality of the job, as most jobs were agricultural. You never knew when your next paycheck was going to be.
To be honest, I get the same question a lot.
“How were you able to travel for so long?” I value buying into experiences rather than materialistic goods. I'd rather buy into an exciting solo trip or travel to visit friends than purchase the newest phone or buy into a clothing trend. I do balance my days out, where sometimes I will buy things that I want, but I don’t blow my money. I made a lot of sacrifices, such as making a dish and eating the same thing for five meals. In Hong Kong, I chose a more localized lifestyle that would be cheaper, but at the cost of a more ideal expat lifestyle.
[Young Money: We respect Tory's savviness and frugality here. His adaptability with money and situation allowed him to continue living the life he wanted, but also responsibly save at the same time.]
What value do you believe being abroad can bring?
It opens you up to the world much more than you can imagine. You become that globally connected person who can be like, “I have that contact in Hong Kong” and you gain a new perspective on how someone views the world, whether it's a colleague, friend, or someone you just met. You also get to grow your soft skills and need to adapt to their cultural norms, like choosing English words carefully and adhering to a different work ethic. You also develop empathy, putting yourself in other people's shoes.
Though not in monetary value, being abroad has provided personal value. I have some of my happiest, but nostalgic memories. That is something you cannot buy or experience at home.
[Young Money: The value of working with global teams and experiencing cultural immersion is invaluable, especially as trade and economies become more globalized. You'll find that candidates who have worked abroad or can speak multiple languages are more likely to stand out.]
What career path will you go down with your Master’s of Library & Information Science?
The reach goal is to work in a tech company with a stable income, as a data analyst, data integrity, UX, or librarian. Reason being is I like the idea of being an unbiased source, like paving pathways or creating a main database that will help answer questions. It is similar to being a pillar of knowledge and being a connector of information.