TALES of a Traveler
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While I have been privileged to explore many places, there is much more of the world that my heart longs to see. I venture to say I'm not alone. Most people I know have a list of places they'd like to visit, and experiences they'd like to have, but they aren't quite sure how to afford it. Today, I'd like to encourage you that it may be more doable than you think, by offering 10 simple ways to save for vacation. These aren't magic money makers, but a way of looking at your life and refocusing your priorities.
People could easily look at me and say, "Of course you can travel a lot, that's your JOB!" While that is true, it still requires resources, and a focused effort on my part to save what we need. My husband has a fabulous job, and I contribute with my business. However, we live in San Jose, which Business Insider calculated to be the 6th most expensive place to live in the world. Therefore, while we are financially stable by all definitions, we don't have excess cash to throw around. We make choices in our everyday lives which allow us to take some incredible trips. By sharing some of my strategies with you, I hope you'll be encouraged that you, too, can save up for that dream trip.
1. Write Down Your Goals
We've all heard it, but hearing it isn't enough. You need to put the saying in to action. Where do you want to go? What do you envision doing on your dream vacation? Write it on a post-it note and put it on your computer, to prevent you from clicking "buy". Or write it on a piece of paper that you'll see when you open your wallet. Do you want to save for that vacation more than you want that new shirt you were planning to purchase?
2. Don't Go Shopping
I think I just heard you laugh at me, but I mean it. For some people, shopping is habit that they fall in to when they are upset or bored. This leads to spending money on objects that will not bring happiness. Instead of being an emotional shopper, try visualizing yourself in the destination you're saving up to visit. (Even $10 per month adds up to $120 per year.)
3. Stick to the List
If you MUST go to the store, carefully consider what you NEED to purchase. Write it down and stick to the list. Those impulse buys are strategically positioned for a reason. Walk confidently by them, focused on your list and your long term goal. ($5 worth of impulse buys, once a week, adds up to $260 per year.)
4. Reevaluate the Services You Pay For
Potentially, these are items that can add up quickly. Is there something in your budget that you can take back and do yourself? Possibilities include pool care, house cleaning and haircuts. Additionally look through your budget and reevaluate every recurring charge. Do you need both Netflix and Hulu? Did you forget to cancel a recurring subscription? Is there a way to lower your cable bill?
5. Use the Library
I love books! I can power through a novel in a day or two, and my bookshelves are evidence of that. However, in the last year I have gone back to using the library. Not only do I appreciate the lack of clutter, but my bank account appreciates the $10 per book that I'm saving. If it's a newer book that may be in high demand at the library, consider borrowing a copy from a friend.
6. Dine at Home
In the busyness of life, it is tempting to fall in to the habit of regularly dining out. Trust me, I understand this one completely. My family wants to eat vast amounts of food every day...multiple times! However, when I look at how quickly it adds up, I go back to point number one: What is my goal? Is my lack of desire to make dinner today greater than my desire to save for our next family getaway? Trimming down the dining out budget can have a huge impact on your savings. (Just $10 a week saved on dining out totals $520 per year.)
7. Skip the Starbucks
Nothing against Starbucks, I just like the alliteration! The same goes for Peet's or Dutch Bros., or whichever other establishment you prefer. Coffee adds up quickly, and can make a big difference in your budget. $4 per week is $208 per year. Many people visit multiple times weekly, and when you do the math, it adds up fast! Instead, take your coffee in a tumbler on the road. Or, instead of meeting a friend for coffee, invite them to your home. Not only will your pocketbook thank you, but your hospitality will be appreciated.
8. Consider a Side Hustle
A side hustle is a job that one does in addition to their normal work load. My friend Matt over at Spill's Spot just wrote a great article about this. What is it that you can do, no matter how small, which will allow you to set aside funds for vacation? For me, I work seasonally in a tax office for a friend. I get to work outside the home for 2 months per year and tuck away some play money just in time for summer.
9. Purge Your Home
How is it that, no matter how much space we have, we manage to fill it with stuff? It's a tendency that many people have, resulting in unnecessary items piling up and overflowing our closets and cupboards. Even I, a non-shopper, have this issue. My remedy is to go through my house every 6 months, thoughtfully getting rid of items I no longer need or want. I then set aside a day to list the unwanted items on Ebay (if easily shipped) and Craigslist (if not). This is great "extra" money to set aside for vacation, as I usually make a few hundred dollars per selling spree.
10. Rethink Gift Giving
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE giving gifts! It thrills me to find just the right gift for someone special, and to see their face when opening the package. Therefore, I'm not asking you to discontinue this tradition. Instead, think about the type of gift giver you are. Are your gifts extravagant, and could perhaps be toned down a bit? Do you fail to plan ahead, resulting in frantically buying something at the last minute, at a higher price than you'd like to pay? By considering these options, you may find ways to still give meaningful gifts while also adding to the vacation fund. Additionally, why not agree with your spouse to forego gift giving for a special occasion and add to the travel fund instead? In the long run, you'll remember that special trip long after you would have forgotten about that item you were given.
Again ,there is no magical money tree here, but perhaps you've been inspired to think about ways that YOU may save for that next vacation. Are there habits you may change, or a new way of thinking you could adopt? I know the budget can be very tight, and for some it will take many years to save up. Whether it takes one year or 5, don't give up on your dream. Keep that picture in your mind. The world awaits.
Lisa is the travel loving, animal adoring, Mickey Mouse hugging owner of Dreams Delivered Travel.