The Frugal Colonizer's Guide to Getting to Mars

Do you want to take a trip to Mars?

For many people, such a journey would be the thrill of a lifetime. But there's no indication that an average person can currently shell out the billions of dollars it would take to get there.

However, there are people working every day on the concept of commercial space flight, and it's possible that one day, such interplanetary trips will be financially achievable even for middle class folks. Famed entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk recently said he'd like to see the price of a Mars trip drop to about $200,000.

Of course, that's still a big chunk of change. But with sensible financial planning, it's a plausible figure even for someone who's not filthy rich.

Let's take a look at how an Average Joe might be able to accumulate $200,000 for a trip to Mars.

Save and Wait

Elon Musk didn't give an indication of when the $200,000 price tag might be in place. So let's assume that it's far out in the future. This gives you time to begin saving now and accumulate wealth over time. $200,000 isn't an amount that can be saved overnight, but over the course of, say, 25 years, it's achievable. If you put away just $250 per month and invest in the general stock market, earning about 7% per year, you'll have about $200,000 a quarter century from now, assuming inflation remains low.

Save More and Wait Less

So you don't want to wait 25 years? Fine. That means you'll have to find ways to save more and accumulate $200,000 in a shorter span of time. Assuming the typical 7% market return on investments, it will take about $650 a month to reach your goal in 15 years. To do it in 10 years, you'll need to save about $1,200 per month. It's possible to invest more aggressively and earn money faster, but you also run a greater risk of losing money or falling short of your goal.

Go Full Monk

So let's say you have a middle class salary but don't want to wait at all. You make about $50,000 a year, but want to go in the next five years or so. Well, sounds like it's time to practice living on Mars by cutting out just about every luxury in your life. Move in with your parents to save on rent, or downsize into a tiny house. Ditch your car and get a bus pass. Never eat out. For entertainment, go on long hikes and read books from the library. If Mars is your goal, you need to act like you're practically already there by living on the bare necessities.

Sell Your Story

If you can't afford to take the trip on your own, maybe there's someone who will pay you to tell the story of how you got to Mars. Maybe there's a book deal to be had, or a reality television show. Maybe you could start a blog and sell some ads on it. Why spend your own money when someone else can handle the expense?

Fund It on Kickstarter

It's highly doubtful many people will raise money online for your trip to Mars. But if you turn your trip into an unselfish venture, it might generate some donations, perhaps through a platform like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. For example, you might promise to perform certain kinds of scientific research, or raise awareness for a cause.

Get Sponsorships

Many people climb Mount Everest and do other big expeditions with the support of companies who like the exposure. Your trip to Mars may be highly publicized, so you can trade your potential visibility for cash to help pay for the trip. This might mean you have to travel in a spacesuit with GoDaddy or Red Bull on the back, but it will be worth it for a trip to the red planet.

Sell Mars Artifacts

People will pay big bucks for items from Mars. Rocks. Dirt. Jars of red dust. It can all be for sale if you can find a way to bring it back to Earth. Surely, there may be restrictions on what you can take from Mars, but if the Apollo astronauts brought back moon rocks, you could probably get away with snatching a Mars rock or two. Under this scenario, you'd probably need someone to front you the money and agree to be paid back later when you earn cash from your Mars artifacts.

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The Frugal Colonizer's Guide to Getting to Mars

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