I’ll never forget the moment I realized a gap year was what I wanted to do and 100% possible. It was in the Fall of 2017. Dylan and I had been debt free for a few months and were trying to determine what we wanted to do now that we had such freedom! While we were on a walk near Mount Rainier, where we lived, we realized that we wanted to quit our jobs, take time enjoying life and plan out our next chapter.
So we got to work figuring out how we could make this dream a reality. We knew this was more than a “lifestyle goal”, quitting our jobs and taking a year off of work at its core, is a financial goal. We created a plan to balance our daily life and our needs for a year off of work.
Our top priorities were 1) To continue covering our current living expenses for day to day life 2) Save enough money so that we could live off of savings for about 12-months 3) Continue to max out our retirement contributions. Because, future self! 4) While continuing to travel and have fun that would ultimately help us stay happy, healthy, and motivated
Doing all 4 of these things at once might seem crazy, but with a well thought out plan it was doable (so doable we coach people through the process as our new profession).
It is also worth noting that we were not in a rush to make this dream a reality, but we were focused. And although we were excited about the idea, we were adamant that the price of a “rice and beans” lifestyle was too high to pay with our sanity. Because not surprisingly – too much delayed gratification is actually just as bad and too little. So even if it meant it would take a bit longer to get to our gap year, living a balanced life in the meantime was high priority.
Once we reached our financial goal of saving enough to live on for a year in cash, we were more confident in our decision, and started to plan our adult gap year in detail. The most important and exciting part of the entire year was traveling. We had been living in the Pacific Northwest for the past few years but had been so focused on work, we hadn’t explored as much as we wanted. (Sound familiar?) Well, that was about to change. The first trip we booked would take us to Alaska where we kayaked the fjords, explored glaciers, visited Denali and tried to keep count of all the moose and grizzly bears.
We kept our home as a “basecamp” so to speak, so we could recharge for a day or two before heading back out on our next adventure. We bounced around from Alaska to Banff to Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier and the North Cascades. We had a pact that we would stop traveling and enter the next phase once the summer wildfires started – but they never did.
So we kept on exploring all summer until finally it was time to pack up our lives and move to Chattanooga, TN. We were excited to check out this up and coming outdoor town and enjoyed our visit a few years before.
While this may sound like nothing more than the ultimate summer vacation filled with travel and leisure, it was much more than that. Yes, it was incredibly enjoyable – to this day I am in awe! What made it such an important personal journey was the work that we did on ourselves.
This was a time of healing from burnout, extreme anxiety, stress and depression. It was a time of exploring our relationship, growing together and seeking our purpose. We decided to create, develop and build a business, relationship, and life that we loved and the conversations or “meetings” were held on every trail, mountain or glacier bay we explored.
All this to say, taking an adult gap year was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Without it, R & D Financial Coaching would not be here today to help others find their way to financial freedom. Freeing them up to create their own path, focus on personal growth, recoup from the hard times and come back swinging.
So are you ready to learn more about how to start planning for a gap year of your own without going into debt?
Sign up for our newsletter and learn how to improve your personal finances so you can enjoy life more!