Hi Frugalistas! When are you planning to travel? Is it one day? Someday? Or is it something that you believe you cannot achieve? Do you wish you could travel more often or for longer? I believe most people who dream of travel certainly can. It’s a question of prioritisation, self discipline and being completely honest with yourself. So here’s how to get real and how to save to travel now!
Get real and be honest about your money and how you spend it
“I can’t save anything, I don’t know where the money goes…..” Does this sound like you? If you “don’t know where the money goes”, then it’s definitely time to start learning.
Keep an honest diary for a month. Itemise every purchase and every expense. Being honest with yourself is crucial – if you cheat, you are only cheating yourself. At the end of the month study your finances. How much did you spend, and what did you spend it on? How much money did you really, truly in your heart of hearts know you genuinely needed to spend, and how much did you just fritter away? If you have a partner, or a friend with a financial goal, do it together to hold yourself accountable.
Writing it down, and seeing it before your eyes can be a reality check. How much was it you spent on takeaway coffees?
Decide travelling is going to be a priority for you
There are very few of us (myself included) who have the money to just take off when the mood takes us. If you want to travel, decide that travel is your priority. Make a conscious decision that you don’t need the latest television, car or designer shoes.
Decide what is important and what isn’t to you, then plan and act accordingly. For us, it means we have a refrigerator that is 17 years old. It works perfectly well, it’s just not new. It also means we don’t just buy “stuff”. Everything we purchase for our home has a specific purpose, and is bought for a specific reason. We don’t buy things just because they are “cute” or the latest trend. We don’t have shelves of books that no one has read, or racks of clothes that no one has worn.
Pay yourself first
When you get paid do whatever you need to do put a set amount into a specific account. Whether it’s $10, $100 or $1000 make sure you do it without fail. Make it an automatic deduction from your pay, or from your bank account if that’s what you need to do – if you never see it, you never miss it. Make it automatic, and you will never “forget”, not “get around to it” any other excuse you can find.
Find an account that allows you to be paid extra interest for months where you make a deposit and no withdrawals. Your savings will increase, and you will be more motivated to stick to your plan.
Consider every purchase or expense in terms of what travel you are foregoing
This is an idea I stole from my favourite novel. In the story, one of the children has a “running away” fund. She is saving up to run away, and rather than focus on the balance of her fund, she measures it in terms of “X number of days at a bed & breakfast”.
You need to do the same. Create your own “running away” fund.
When you’re tempted by those oh-so-cute $100 shoes, think of it as a night in a hotel or a nice meal in your target destination.
How to afford travel a bit at a time
Look at your expenditure and identify all those small amounts that add up. How much do you spend on magazines each week? Takeaway coffees, work lunches and mid afternoon snacks all add up.
Where I work a barista coffee costs about $3.50. A group of us clubbed together and bought a small Nespresso machine. We each paid the equivalent of about 5 coffees. I buy my pods at the supermarket, and have a week’s worth of yummy coffee for less than the cost of 2 coffees from the coffee cart.
Add the money you don’t spend on coffee to your “running away” fund each week, and watch your dreams come true!
Bring your lunch from home. If you really need your soft drink (soda), bottled water or afternoon chocolate, buy them in bulk at the supermarket and take them to work. Again, pocket those savings.
Remember, if you want to stay in a hotel that will cost you $200 a night, if you can save $20 a week on work lunches, drinks and snacks, by the end of the year you will have five nights of that lovely hotel in the bank. Far more memorable than that coffee, or can of Coke!
Know yourself and your weaknesses
For me, I know that I’m a sucker for beautiful clothes. If I’m saving for a trip, I don’t go shopping. I don’t open the Net-a-Porter emails. Then I’m not tempted, and I don’t have “accidents”. I don’t put myself in the situation where a shopping “accident” can occur so I stay focussed. Whether it’s clothes, shoes, expensive cocktails or whatever, keep away from your kryptonite, and don’t spend that money. Put it into your “running away” fund instead.
Buy only what you need
How many pairs of jeans, shoes or purses (handbags) do you need? Don’t buy things just because they are a bargain. If you are on a travel saving strategy, they aren’t a bargain, they are a weight, stopping you from achieving your dreams.
You don’t need to drink your morning juice out of a mason jar just because it is fashionable.
Falling for the latest “must have” electronic device, or meal at the newest “in” restaurant are distractions. Have that meal at a restaurant in Paris instead – I guarantee you will enjoy it far more.
As I’ve said, and as regular readers would know, I love beautiful clothes. I love buying them, I love wearing them, and I also love travelling with them. Just as I pack a capsule wardrobe, where everything goes with everything else, I use the same strategy for buying all my clothes. I make sure everything I buy goes with everything else. Yes, it takes discipline, but I spend less and wear more!
When it comes to shopping for clothes, I also shop smart. I don’t pay retail for most of my clothes. I buy during sales, I subscribe to loyalty programs and buy special offers. The “throw out” rack at the back of the store is my favourite haunt, and frankly where most of my more expensive items come from. I buy my basics from chain stores.
At the supermarket, I buy extra when groceries and other non-perishables are on special. I check the price tags carefully and work out whether it’s cheaper to buy one big packet or two small packets – don’t assume.
The money I save is travelling money. It pays for something special, and neither I nor my family go without anything by doing so.
Sometimes it can feel as though you will never achieve your goal, and board that plane, or hop in that RV, or set sail on that ship. Do whatever you need to do to stay focussed, stay “on strategy” and stay inspired.
Frequent your local travel agent, and get those brochures – or download them. They are free! Read blogs, set up a Pinterest board or even a scrap book. Learn as much as you can about your desired destination.
Do whatever you need to do to keep the dream alive. A photo in your wallet next to that credit card may do wonders……
Subscribe to travel newsletters, or to airline and online travel websites. Getting those emails in your inbox every week will remind you of what you are actively working towards. The information in them will help you with planning. Remember as with everything else in life, with travel, knowledge is power. The more information you get, the better you will get at working out when airfares are a genuine bargain, what to pay for the best 3 star hotel in your desired destination etc.
Many booking websites offer special discounts to their email subscribers. This can save you money, and help you achieve your dreams sooner.
Hack, hack, hack that travel
I’ve written extensively about travel hacking strategies and techniques in other posts.
Join frequent flyer programs, and make sure you understand the rules of the program well. Buy goods through their online shops. It costs no more than buying at a retail store, and you can earn points. Understand what other services or stores you can utilise to earn points (such as store loyalty cards), and gather points from there.
Don’t use a credit card that doesn’t have some sort of value add program attached to it that is related to travel. Whether it is free travel insurance (which can easily save you hundreds depending on your itinerary) or frequent flyer mileage points, take advantage.
Just don’t, whatever you do, fall into the trap of spending money just to “get the points”. They don’t work like that.
And, remember to pay that card off every month. The interest payments are an expense that can stand between you and your dream trip.
Now, think about your income seriously. Be honest with yourself. How much money can you really put towards travel?
This is how to save to travel – start now!