The Plan: 6 Months, 3 Countries, and $3000

I'm currently about a month and a half into my life-changing, soul searching, press-the-reset-button-on-life trip to India and I realized that I have yet to announce my plan for the next five months.

The word "plan" may be a little too concrete though; it's more like a rough outline. When I decided to uproot my life and switch to the lifestyle I had always dreamed of living, I knew that I needed some direction.

After all, how am I supposed to book a flight if I don't know where I'm going?

I started out very unprepared and with basically no plans. A month before I left for India, I literally had no idea where on the planet I might be going. All I knew was that I was taking one small backpack and going somewhere foreign and inexpensive (at least inexpensive compared to the USA).

A few weeks before my target date (roughly the beginning of March 2010), I accepted an offer to stay with a friend from India and booked a March 13th, 2010 flight from Boston, MA (BOS) to Bangalore, India (BLR).

So it was settled. I would begin my new lifestyle in India.

But what would I do once I arrived? How much money would I need? Where would I go? When would I return? What was the purpose of this adventure?

These were important questions and without having at least a rough outline for their answers, I might be wasting both time and money. So I came up with answers to those questions and formulated the following rough plan.

The Purpose of Uprooting and Changing my Life

"The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude." - William James

The purpose was simple, but important: To reignite personal growth, rediscover who I was, and to make a childhood dream come true (to explore the world as a nomad).

I lived much of my life with this dream stuck in the back of my head. It sat there, like a patient seed waiting to be watered. A few months shy of my 28th birthday, I suddenly felt something change. I felt that I had come to the point where not watering that seed meant it would never grow, no matter how much water it was given.

I felt that this lifestyle change -- this extreme shift in the way my life operates -- just needed to happen, both for my own inner happiness and so that I could begin using my life to help others. It's a hard feeling to explain, but I knew it was both important and real.

Change inspires growth and my life felt stagnant and unchanged. My thirst for knowledge and exploration and my adventurous spirit were drying up and wilting. I was given a taste of what life would be like if nothing changed and it made me so sick that I just had to do something.

Budget & Expenses, or Frugal World Travel

Having recently gone through a bankruptcy after losing several investment properties to the subprime mortgage crisis, I didn't exactly have a ton of cash set aside to live off of. At the same time, I wasn't prepared to continue working for a few more years to save up enough money -- something told me by then it would be too late.

How much do I plan to spend?

The total amount I'm able to commit to this lifestyle without dipping into my tiny savings and without working to bring in any additional income is $3,000. That's it. Once that $3,000 is spent, I have no choice but to start working again.

Of course stretching $3,000 over six months is no small feat. The round-trip plane ticket alone cost me $1,300 and the passport and visa applications cost me around $200. That leaves me with only $1,500 for food, lodging, and transportation for six months, or $250 a month.

Minimal Living & Low Costs

Thankfully India is a relatively inexpensive place to live when compared with the USA: A cheap hotel costs $4 a night and a meal at a restaurant can be found for $0.30. Public transportation is also relatively cheap: $0.25 for a 10-mile ride in a local jeep or bus and $5 for a 200-mile bus ride in cheapest class (no A/C).

However, living inexpensive also means living uncomfortable. It means spending hours in a hot and humid bus (sometimes without a seat), crammed into an 8-person jeep with 22 other people, or sharing a hotel bed with huge cockroaches.

It means finding a small, inexpensive town and staying there. It means not traveling frequently, staying with friends or friends-of-friends whenever possible, and giving up luxury in return for freedom. It means accepting minimalism and hardship as a way of life.

Minimalism is great and hardship often strengthens us. I've always been a fan of both and I take hardship as a challenge, both mentally and physically. The more hardship I can endure, the stronger it makes me.

Is this sustainable?

The goal isn't to live like this forever. I'm not going to wait until all the money has dried up before I start looking for ways to generate income. Instead, I will use these six months to look for alternative means of income. I will be exploring several options, including freelance work, building my own business, and passive income through the web.

I'm giving myself six months to start making some form of regular income to support a mobile lifestyle. A budget of $250 a month, plus a $1,200 plane ticket every six months, means I need to generate a minimum monthly income of $450.

If I can't make it work within six months, then I will be forced to return to the lifestyle of an employee (which I assure you isn't going to happen).

Countries to Visit

After hearing my budget, you might think I'm crazy to consider visiting multiple countries (I'm beginning to wonder the same). But two other countries are on my list, mainly because I'm already in the area and because I've been invited.


This is where I began my journey. I've been in India for a little over five weeks. I've visited Bangalore where my friend let me stay for my first week. From there I took a bus west to Mangalore and then to the tiny town of Ujire, where I've been living on a remote farm for the past few weeks.

Around the middle of May I anticipate traveling north by bus and/or train through the cities of Goa, Pune, and Mumbai, before going through the state of Rajasthan and on to the city of New Dehli, where another friend has invited me to a wedding around the end of May.


A friend, whose wife is from Vietnam, is visiting for a few weeks in June and invited me to tag along. The plan is to take a plane from New Delhi to Vietnam and spend a few weeks exploring before taking a plane to Nepal.


My former boss invited me to a wedding in Nepal during the month of July. If finances allow, I will try to get a plane from Vietnam to Nepal where I will spend the month of July. Before returning to the USA, I will head back to India and continue exploring during the month of August.

Return Date and What's Next?

My Indian tourist visa allows me to stay in India for a maximum of six months, so when I booked the plane ticket I set the return date to September 10th, 2010.

I've decided that I want to continue living like this indefinitely. I know I'm only five weeks into this new lifestyle and lots could change between now and September, but one thing is for sure: I'm never returning to the consumerist life of things, bills, and "normal work".

My rough plan when I return to the USA is to visit family and friends for a month or two before heading back out.

Where I go after that will largely be determined by my finances and by the invitations I receive from friends around the world.

If no plan is perfect, then a rough outline is even less so. I anticipate plenty of challenges along the way but I'm ready to face all of them. After all, I'm living my childhood dream. What more could I ask for?


I will continue writing about this journey, the challenges, and the roadblocks along the way. Starting with next week, I will write monthly trip updates that include a financial report of how I spent my $250 monthly budget. (Update: The first Frugal Travel Report for March 2010 has been released.)

If you haven't already subscribed, please consider grabbing the RSS feed or subscribing to e-mail updates. If you have any questions or you're curious about something that I didn't explain, please leave a comment below or contact me.

Write a Comment



  1. Man, you are probably one of my heroes right now. It takes a huge pair to just take off like that and become a nomad. I wish you all the best in your endeavour and hope you get what you really need out of it.


    • Thanks Pedro! 😀

      If you’re ever thinking of doing something similar, I can tell you from experience: The risk is no way near as big as the reward!

  2. Oh man! That is quite a minimalist budget! I’m really excited to see how you organize your finances to stretch that. Love the challenge! Glad to hear you’re enjoying your travels so much!

    • Thanks Andi!

      It’s definitely a minimalist budget, but hey, I say I’m a minimalist, so I better put my money (or lack thereof) where my mouth is, right?! 😀

    • Thanks for the support, James! I’m sure your own journey is just around the corner — just don’t let go of that goal! If you have any questions or need help, shoot me an email.

  3. You forgot to budget in a good large, fast knife or another means of self defense. Just ditch it before you leave the country. There’s nothing like feeling safer and being well armed in a strange place.

    • Yes! Ever since I arrived here I’ve been feeling naked without a knife! Back in the states I carried one everywhere, but I had to give it up because of the plane.

      Thanks for the reminder, Kevin! 🙂

  4. Sounds like a good plan to me! Good luck in developing your new lifestyle! The post reminds me of the following quote:

    “The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.”

    It’s also interesting how opportunities arise when you’re looking for them: like yourself, I’ll be going to a country (Australia) that was presented to me by a teacher, not because I picked it myself (although I’m eager to go there, heh).

    • Hey Simeon! Thanks for the comment! I really love that quote! In fact, I’m going to add it to this post right now.

      It’s really incredible how much we’re capable of when we really put our minds to it. Like the quote says, altering our attitude has the ability to alter our entire life — but we need to commit to making those alterations and bringing about change!

      I like to say that action is so scary because it has the potential and power to shape the future — it’s like a powerful magic wand that, when wielded properly, can literally control the future.

  5. hmm…. Vietnam…. hmm….

    Prolly get our tickets this weekend. Had a few ups n downs getting this trip planned but nutt’n gonna stop us. This being my 5th trip there 😀

    Ta gives ya’ll a briefing on Raam ventures in Vietnam:

    -Saigon visiting some family along with sight seeing and dodging millions of scooters.

    Day trips from Saigon
    -Binh Duong visiting some family (country)

    -Vung Tau: beaches, temples and visiting Jesus

    -Cu Chi tunnels & Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh

    Second Week:

    -Hue in Central Vietnam visiting Wifey’s parents while bro and his family in China. Do some exploring… no playin’ King of Hill on mounds along side of trail back to parents house. Found out those mounds are graves… DOH!

    • Thanks for the Vietnam briefing, David! 😀

      That sounds like quite the adventurous trip — at least compared to my past few weeks! I can’t wait!

  6. I love how you’ve set yourself a deadline of 6 months to start earning an income. And $450 is really achievable and im sure you’ll get there – to put it in perspective, if you were selling ebooks you would only need to sell one a day to survive.

    Good luck to you!

    • Hi Anthony, thanks for the comment!

      I felt that setting a deadline was vital to ensuring I never have to return to my old lifestyle. Plus, it really makes things easier when you know you’ve got an entire six months to build up just a small regular income.

      I’ve definitely got a few ideas for ebooks and that’s one of the things I’ll be looking into. I’m actually working on a free ebook right now. 🙂

  7. Hello my friend

    My name is David, I’m twenty-one from Jerusalem.

    From where I come from – Raam means Thunder – And surely I have been struck by your blog, In wich revealed the lightning of your spirit!

    I came to the realization of the infinite potentiality of our being, that there is a given choice for us to walk through that door; at this very moment.

    I am planning to be a nomad as well, so I can contemplate I through the present moment in nature and the natural space, and less of the cooperated machine and mind wich distracts from the truth and hardly allows the flow of it to sustain.

    I have also considered the Thai Forest Tradition, since the Buddha’s teachings reflected most of that wich I came to realized, and also it will be nice to accompany those who are truly opening themself to life.

    Your story touches the heart, and I wish for you to find that wich you are seeking.

    P.S. – I want to share with you a read that resonated with me very much:


    • Hi David! Thank you so much for the comment and for sharing that link!

      What a fantastic realization you’ve come to! We are indeed beings with infinite potential and our very understanding of that removes any self-imposed limitations that we might otherwise apply to ourselves.

      The life of a nomad is a simple one. Being forced to remove the unnecessary and live with very little forces our energy and thoughts inward — it changes the way we view life and the things we treat as important. It allows us to see the beauty and truth in nothingness.

      I’m confident you will attain your goals and I hope our paths cross some day. I’d love to spend some time in Jerusalem!

    • Thanks Cody! I honestly don’t know if I would’ve gotten this far without inspiration from your blog! 🙂

      I’d love to meet up when I visit Thailand (possibly later this year)!

  8. Raam,

    If you ever decided to visit Cambodia, let me know and I’ll make arrangement for you to stay at my house in Phnom Penn, (the capital). The house is about 5-10 minutes walk from the airport. You can also stay at my grandmother’s temple at the hill top mountain where she lives as a hard core vegan nun 🙂 If time permits, I recommend visiting Cambodia just to see Angkor Wat.

    • Sarith, thank you so much for the invitation! I really appreciate it.

      I will definitely visit Cambodia — possibly later this year — and staying with your hardcore vegan nun grandmother sounds awesome! 😀

  9. $250 a month is going to be really tough. You might be able to spend a few months living on a farm in a remote Indian village – but how are you going to have any fun?

    How have you been able to go from the North American lifestyle to living in poverty in some of the poorest countries in the world? I’d like to see a blog post on that.

    Good luck!

    • Hi Scott! Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      $250 a month is going to be tough, but it’s absolutely doable. And what’s your definition of “fun”? 🙂 Fun for me is just being in an unfamiliar place and constantly having the opportunity to learn something new from my surroundings. Besides that, I’ve been exploring the local historic temples and trekking mountains to ancient fortresses! Add to that the fact that I can eat delicious food every day for cheap and I almost feel like I’m in heaven! 😀 (I love water, so throw in a beach and I’m all set!)

      Switching lifestyles has definitely been interesting, but considering that I’ve always chosen to live “uncomfortable”, even when I had the option not to, making the switch has been relatively easy for me. There are definitely some psychological affects and I will write about those in a future post as you suggested.


  10. Hey Raam – That’s about as well thought out of a non-plan as I’ve ever seen! Even without a definite plan, your steps are calculated, confident and with purpose and as a result, I have no doubt that you’ll soon achieve your goals.

    On a side note, I bet you’re becoming quite the expert on rice and dhal with that budget you’re sticking to!

    • Hey Earl!

      Rice and dhal… I was already somewhat of an expert before I arrived! I grew up on that stuff. 😀

      I’ll have more details in my next post, but I calculated a budget of 60 rupees a day for food should be more than enough. The meals at restaurants here in Ujire run about 20 rupees including coffee/tea (the most expensive restaurant here runs about twice that), so I should be able to get three meals a day and still be within budget!

      But we’ll see how much all that changes once I start moving north through the bigger cities! 🙂

      I appreciate the support! Let me know if you’re coming to India before September — I’d love to meet up!

  11. Kudos, Raam. It takes courage to not only have dreams but also to live those dreams. It sometimes makes me sad to see people not realizing what potential they have. You are an inspiration to many of us (without you realizing this, I bet). Fear seems to be missing from your dictionary :-). I look forward to reading more about your journey.

    If you need any help, let me know.


  12. Did you calculate them luxary hotels you been staying at my man? Have fun and be safe. Make it back for Linkin’s 1st birthday or your sister will never forgive you. HEheheheHEhehe.

    • Haha, thanks Thea! Luxury hotels!? I wouldn’t dare. But I suppose compared to the $4/night hotel the $8/night hotel IS luxurious! I can’t stay in too many $8/night hotels or I will quickly go over my budget (I’ll need $400/mo instead of $250/mo).

      Tell Meera not to worry! I’ll be back and staying for my nephew’s 1st birthday! 🙂

  13. Hey Raam,

    This is a great post. Really personal and gives good insight into what your plan is all about. Its inspiring me to write something similar.

    I am in a similar situation to you. I up and left with a budget, a bunch of reading and a plan to travel while I build an alternate income. I am already 4 months in and already have some income coming with more on the way hopefully.

    I’m off to Europe on Monday for a bit of a multi country blitz before I settle somewhere in Eastern Euro for a while. I look forward to see how your journey goes.


    • Hey Vinay! Thanks for the comment!

      It sounds like we’re on an almost identical path! I’m not sure when, but Europe is definitely on my radar for places to explore, so I’d love to meet up. 🙂

      I’ll be following your updates as well!

  14. This is awesome. Congratulations to you for making it happen, even when the timing wasn’t ideal, financially. (When will it ever be ideal?)

    $450 a month, you can make that with this blog because your journey is compelling and something that so many people wish they had the guts to do. Just give it time and provide lots of value in some form or another.

    Very inspiring, best of luck!

    • Thanks Matt! If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past 28 years of life, it’s that the timing will never be right. The only good time to take action is now.

      I just felt compelled to take this leap. I couldn’t put it off any longer. I got to the point where it seemed a lot riskier not joump and continue living as I was!

      I really enjoy your blog. Ever since I became a fitness enthusiast and began combining exercise and bodybuilding with a vegan/vegetarian diet, I’ve loved hearing about new and creative ways to maintain energy and nutrition. Your blog is full of awesome ideas and information!

  15. Raam, this is so awesome! I am incredibly happy to meet you, and so glad RowdyKittens “introduced” us!

    I have a million questions and ideas, and will be following your blog from this day forward. Tons of love and good luck, and we will talk more soon!

    • Thank you, Jessica! The feeling is mutual!

      Feel free to bombard me any time with as many questions and ideas as you’d like! 🙂

  16. Raam,

    Loving this brother… As I mentioned on your fan page, I’m about to embark on my own version and your story has definitely sparked more creative juices for me… I may meet you along the way here soon! 🙂

    Talk soon Raam…

    Patrick Hitches

    • Thank you, Patrick!

      I’m really looking forward to reading more about your travel adventures and meeting you in person one of these days. 🙂

  17. So very inspiring. I’m grateful that somehow during this journey we connected and that I now get to witness the difference it makes.

    Be well my friend.

  18. Hi Raam,
    I was looking at the net related to my native place Ujire and I came across your blog and your amazing journey..! great.. ! and keep it up…!! I did my BSc at SDM college Ujire and currently I live in Germany (Bochum). I wish you all the best for your future plans & journey..!

    Enjoy your journey and fulfill your dreams…!! keep blogging…!

    • And to think that $3,000 INCLUDED the round-trip plane ticket! 🙂 I look at travel in a whole new light after that experience. For less than $12,000 a year, you can live comfortably in many places around the world.

  19. Hi Raam..what an inspiring tale you tell in your article. I hope nothing but success, peace and prosperity greet you in the upcoming year. Have you thought about contributing to websites that pay you based on views? Check out and If you don’t see a topic on either site, pitch them on a new topic..your expertise…your current travel experience…etc. will supplement your income nicely and even exceed your goal if you land a job….check them out!

    • Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for the comment. I have actually looked into doing travel writing for pay, but I think it ruins my experience. I don’t like to travel just for the sights and sounds… for me it’s more about the perspectives, the experiences, the deeper stuff. It seems like travel writing requires writing about the places instead how the places have changed me or my perspective of life and the world.

      Have a great New Years and I wish you all the best for 2011!

    • Hi Jill!

      I’m back in the Northeast United States right now, visiting my family in the Boston area. I’ll be back on the road next week, traveling to Florida for the Space Shuttle Discovery launch. Then I’m thinking of heading back to India next month (March 2011).

  20. Hi Raam,

    I’m a relatively new reader and first time commenter. It’s absolutely amazing that you now live the life you’ve dreamed of. I sincerely dream about achieving my dreams of adventure and travel after i graduate from college and start my travel nursing career in the US. My question is, how did you communicate with people in India, Vietnam, and Nepal? Surely I’m assuming you don’t know how to speak all these dialects fluently. How did you communicate with people who didn’t speak english? or i guess you could only communicate with those that did know english. Did you feel lonely often knowing that there aren’t that many people you can communicate with? How did you deal with that?
    Also, How did you know that India is a place that is much cheaper than the US? Say, if you wanted to go to Africa, how would you know how much money you would need to save and budget prior to leaving for your sojourn?
    I know I’ve asked a lot of questions but these are some of my biggest fears and obstacles right now that are causing me to think a lot about. I really appreciate your time and help. Thanks.

    To Living Your Dreams,

    Michael Leu

    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks for the great questions! I will address them below and I hope they inspire you to overcome your fears and start exploring! 🙂

      On the language barrier

      I thought this would be the most difficult part for me, but I was shocked to find that India has a huge Engish-speaking population. The diverse local languages in India has forced many Indias to agree on a shared language by which to communicate. It just so happens that English is that language (North India tried to use Hindi as the national language, but those in the South didn’t agree, so the two unofficially settled on English).

      That doesn’t mean everyone speaks English, but it certainly wasn’t very difficult to get around. If the person you’re trying to speak to doesn’t understand English in India, there’s a good chance someone else nearby will happily translate for you.

      I was only in Vietnam for a few weeks and I was tagging along with a friend and his family. They arranged everything, so I wasn’t out on my own very much. In the touristy areas of Vietnam, you can usually find people who speak English.

      In Nepal, it was the same as in India: There was usually someone who spoke English. Tourism is Nepal’s biggest industry, so everyone there knows that learning English increases their chances of finding work.

      In general, I think you’ll find that communicating with people who don’t understand your language is actually fun and easy. Using hand signals and trying to pronounce the names of places you want to go usually gets you where you need to. Everyone understand facial expressions and basic hand gestures. They also understand the names of places, maps, and numbers (for dealing with currencies). A little education on your end goes a long way, so read up on the place you’re visting on sites like WikiTravel.

      On feeling lonely

      I’m a very introverted person to begin with, so loneliness wasn’t an issue. However, after six months of being in an unfamiliar country and being pestered by street sellers, I did start to miss familiarity and an environment where I could relax.

      If you enjoy talking to people, you can either look for people who speak English (depending on where you are, most locals love attempting to talk with travelers) or stay in hostels and other touristy areas of the country where you’re likely to find other English-speaking travelers.

      On Finding a country where the US dollar goes a long way

      My family has several friends who are Indian and who travel between the US and India several times a year. I’d heard through them how much cheaper things were in India than in the United States. When I was trying to “budget” how much I could realistically live on in India, I reached out to other traveler friends online. One friend, Wandering Earl, had traveled in India extensively and so I emailed him to ask if a $250/month budget was realistic. He told me $400/month would be very easy, but $250/month would be manageable.

      After asking a few more people, I felt comfortable I could do it. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived, so I really learned what things cost as I went (which was incredibly fun).

      If you have a country you’d like to visit and you’re not sure what costs are like in comparison to the United States, simply look for other travelers who have talked about living expenses online. Or, if you know they’ve traveled to that country, send them an email and ask. You’d be amazed at how helpful travelers are. 🙂

    • Thank you, Mohit. 🙂 You’re capable of achieving far more than you can imagine. You just have to put your mind to it, stay focused, take action, and when you fail get back up and keep trying.

      (Sorry for the delayed reply; I’m just catching up to comments now!)

  21. Hope it was fantastic! How did it end up? Did you enjoy it? Was the budget diffucult? I’m about to go to Europe on a small budget. This is inspiring! 😀

    • Hi Liz,

      It was indeed fantastic! 🙂 As I mentioned at the end of this post, I kept detailed records of my expenses during that trip and published them on this site as Frugal Travel Reports. You may find them useful to give you ideas for your trip to Europe.

      Good luck and enjoy!

  22. Very interesting article. Im about to head off to Thailand and Cambodia for three weeks. I already bought my tickets so my complete budget for South East Asia is $3000 (Canadian). For some reason im paranoid that isnt enough money to be some what more relaxed on my vacation. Your article gave me great insight.


    • I’m glad this helped ease some worries, Tony. If you think about it, you probably have so many skills that are in high demand in a place like Thailand and Cambodia that even if you did run out of money, you could easily get by. Even just the ability to use a computer combined with you knowledge of English make you very “employable”, even if that just means doing something in exchange for housing or food…

      Don’t worry. Keep an eye on your budget and keep track of what you’re spending and you’ll be just fine. 🙂

  23. Im 31 now traveled to 25 countries for 5 years. Traveling constantly starts to drain you out to a point where I just wanted to go home cause I missed my own stuff married to a Filipina with a k1 visa in new jersey but no matter what I always miss traveling and wants to go back out there again. I guess I’m like a recovering Crack head lol. Once your off expect that you’ll always Wana go back

    • I think it’s a lifestyle, a way of life, to always want to explore, to always want to experience being surrounded by the unknown. I personally don’t like traveling non-stop, but I also get restless after an indeterminate amount of time. But even if circumstances have you settled in one place, if only extended temporary stay, there is a lot than can be done to maintain your sense of adventure. There’s also a lot of things you can focus on when you’re in one place that you might not otherwise be able to do while traveling, such as developing habits and routines that help you grow in different ways.

  24. How did this budget work? I have spent over a year and a half living in India. I went to school here, I have a flat here, I intern for a
    Think tank here and I have friends I stay with in most large indian cities and I have never been able to keep a budget that tight. And I even know how much everything should cost so I don’t get ripped off like most tourists and I know enough hindi to get by.

    • Hi Kev,

      I managed to spend a little over $3000 during those 6 months, around $5000 USD total. It wasn’t that hard. It’s really a matter of finding the cheapest places to stay and eating at the most inexpensive restaurants (or cooking your own food). I imagine if I was living in one place permanently in India, I could get by on even less, as there wouldn’t be any travel expense!

      I kept records of what I spent and where, which you can read in my _Frugal Travel Reports_ (see the posts from 2010 for the India trip).

      I suggest that you keep a record of every single rupee you spend for a few months. That will help you see where most of your money is going and allow you to seek more frugal options. 🙂

  25. hi raam,
    my husband and i are from india and have worked and lived in the u.s ( los angeles ) since 1985.we would like to spend our retirement years in pune india a rew years down the road.concerns are if we can manage in our social security income to survive / live there.

    • Hi Bukul,

      With the right planning, living in India even on a modest income (by western standards) would not be that difficult. Of course how you plan to live–what lifestyle you plan to have–really determines just how much money you’ll need.