Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Bibbulmun Track: a budget and a spot of belt tightening

With over 16 months to go, I have just transferred the first £100 into a bank account, which will now be known as my “Bibbulmun Track Fund”. The balance now stands at a paltry £100.14; a long long way to make my target. I can now see that walking the 965 kilometres is only a part of my worries, and that raising the cash to attempt it is just as big a challenge.

Where my challenges differ from some officially organised ones is that part of my commitment to the cause is being responsible for all the costs related to running the event, and therefore all of the money (minus the Just Giving fees) raised through public donations goes to the charity.

The way many organised charity treks work is that you pay a registration fee to the charity to secure your place on an event, and then you have to commit to raising a minimum amount. Out of the money raised, as much as 50% of the minimum target can go to paying for the remaining cost of the event! That can include flights, hotels, meals; Personally, I have always viewed that approach as effectively asking people to pay for you to go on holiday!

I’m not having a go at organised challenges, they are a vital source of income for charities, and I have done a few myself, but I do think the participant should step up and do the right thing, and that would be, in my personal opinion, either of the following:
  • make a personal donation which will cover the organisational costs.
  • Join an “Open Group” and pay for the trip yourself, then make your own arrangements to raise for your favourite charity.
But I digress. Getting back to my efforts to pay for the Bibbulmun, at the moment i have taken into account the following:

I have planned that the entire trip to and from the UK will be 84 days. I am working on the premise that I would treat each section between huts as a days walk, which would mean 58 days walking, although the likelihood is that as I earn my trail legs and become fitter, I will skip some of the huts in favour of bigger distances.

With that in mind, expenses that come to mind are:
  • Accommodation - I have factored in some rest, or “zero”, days at each track town. I’m allowing for 21 nights but, once again, as I become fitter, this will be less.
  • Transport - I have to get to Australia, of course, so there is the return flight. Then there is getting to and from the track.
  • Food - This includes bulk buying freeze dried meals, snacks, allowing for proper meals in track towns, and not forgetting a beer or two.
  • Equipment – this is for items I will need to buy out there, such as stove fuel and the replacement of any damaged, worn out or lost items.
  • Home Expenses – Unfortunately, while I am away, my life in the UK isn’t put on hold. There are still Rent and Utility Bills that need covering, and this has to be included as a substantial chunk of my time away is unpaid leave.
Thankfully, I will not be having to factor in a period of unemployment when I return to the UK, so my budget is currently set at the £8000 mark.

If all goes well, the trip won’t cost anywhere near that, as all my calculations are “worst case” but it gives me a clearer idea of what I have to achieve. 16 months to save, that works out at me having to put by £500 a month.

That appears daunting, but other outgoings, like the monthly payments of my car and credit card balances, are all nearing an end.

I can’t just rely on those amounts, though, and a few  amendments will have to be made to the way I spend. For example, little changes like taking in my own meals to work could save as much as £20 a week and there is £1280 towards my target straight away!

So, plenty to do and although that £100 I have transferred seems very little, it’s significance for me is huge; it’s a statement of intent, it focuses the mind, and it starts the ball rolling.