Those of you that know me are aware that I am what I like to call “thrifty.” I like to save money when I can, and I do what I must to make that happen. When I decided I was going to travel, a lot of my friends and colleagues commented that they would never have the money to do that. In fact, some of them actually asked me where I got the money to make my trips happen! When I got done laughing at them, I explained that they could do exactly the same things that I did, if they were really serious about wanting to travel. It seems that lots of us say we want to do things, but then we are not willing to do what we have to in order to make them happen. My common comment in these situations is, “Are you still paying off your car?” The answer was almost always yes. My point in that situation was, “You could drive a used car and be saving that $300-$400 monthly towards your travel budget. That’s what I do.” Most people don’t realize that they have the money to do the things they want, they just need to stop doing other things that are less important to make their dreams come true.
But, I digress. This post is about saving for travel. There are lots of great ways to make that happen, and I’m going to cover just a few here. I’m sure you’ve heard some of these before, perhaps you’re even using a couple of them. The idea is to come up with a travel budget and figure out how to make it work. In this post I will explain my own three-pronged approach for savings in general. In another post I will go over my savings plan for an upcoming trip to illustrate how I use this approach.
First Goal: Save some money!
It doesn’t have to be all of the money for the trip, as you’ll see later, I don’t finance my trips 100% through savings – but it definitely gives you a good base to start with. As I said above, I don’t have a car payment, and we don’t spend money on anything extravagant, so I have a little wiggle room in my budget. Even so, I need to save for other things, so my travel savings is not a huge chunk of my weekly budget. I personally put aside anywhere from $50-$100 every two weeks. It’s an amount that’s small enough that it doesn’t hurt too much, but it really adds up! If you put $50 aside every two weeks, you’ll wind up with $1300 at the end of the year. If you make it to $100 every two weeks, you’ll have $2600! That’s a really nice base for a travel fund. I personally use Capital One 360 for my savings account. It’s free, and it’s far enough removed from my bank that I won’t try to take money out of it in a pinch. Plus they have a pretty good interest rate for savings, at the moment.
Even if you don’t have enough ahead to put aside that amount of money bi-weekly, don’t be discouraged. You can try any of the other savings tricks, such as saving all your $5 bills, or throwing all of your change in a jar at the end of the day. Those methods really do work if you’re consistent about it. The key is, save something each week – it will add up before you know it!
Second Goal: Make some money!
This one is actually quite fun for me! I figure out how much more money I need to finance the trip, and I figure out ways to go about earning it. Most of these ideas are things that you do outside of your regular job, some of them are from home opportunities, and most will pay you a little at a time, which as we know adds up quickly! Some of my favorites for this:
• Write content – If you enjoy writing and don’t mind doing a little research, you can write content through sites like Textbroker and Crowdsource. These sites usually pay between 2.5 to 3 cents per word and look for specific things (a 200 word answer to a high-traffic question, which earns you $5 – and to give you an idea of size, just this bullet point is 100 words!) If you put in 3-4 hours on one of your days off, or even an hour or two per night, you can easily earn $150 a month or so (depending on your speed, of course) This is an extra $1800 a year – good travel fodder!
• Do mindless tasks – I love Amazon Mechanical Turk for this one! They will pay you to do tasks like transcribing information from a receipt, categorizing items, or simple data entry (like information from a business card) The pay is very low, somewhere from 5 cents to 15 cents per item. But if you can get a decent amount done (I can transcribe about 40 business cards an hour) you’ll make $4-$5 an hour. Not bad for work that you can do while you’re listening to TV or just hanging out. I bring home about $30 a week this way, well over $100 a month or $1200 a year – nice!
• Petsitting – OK, so this one is a shameless plug, but I honestly couldn’t do the travelling that I have if it weren’t for my petsitting business. I’ve worked at it for seven years now, and I absolutely love it as a “second job.” You can schedule petsits around your job or family commitments and the money is quite good. For a week long petsit, five days of two visits per day, I earn $170, and my rates are actually kind of low. If you’re interested in starting your own business, I have created an e-book that tells you how. Go to MyPetsittingBusiness.com to learn more.
Third Goal: Save Money on Everyday Things!
It’s never fun putting every cent into savings. Saving money on your everyday items gives you a bit more wiggle room to buy some of the fun things that make life worth living. I will be honest, while I do have a few tips on this one, there are some blogs out there that are specifically designed for teaching you how to save money. My two favorites are Money Saving Mom and The Humbled Homemaker. Check them out if you get the chance! Now on to a few things you can do to save some money daily!
• Grocery store rebates – I use Ibotta, but there are others out there that will pay you a rebate if you take a picture of your receipt and send it to them to prove that you bought the items.
• Target Cartwheel – I usually find some good coupons on this one, but I do have to search through a good 200 offers to find the ones that I need. Totally worth it, though, as I’m a Target addict!
• Survey sites – I use E-rewards and Valued Opinions, but there are many others. You get an email when a survey comes up that fits your profile. If you qualify, each survey has an amount of Rewards Currency associated with it. If you complete the survey (usually 10-25 minutes) then you get the currency in your bank and you can exchange that for rewards. Each survey could be between $2 and $10 in Rewards Currency, and about $75 in Rewards Currency usually earns a $25 gift card. It takes me about a month to get to the $75 level, but I usually redeem my Rewards Currency for Southwest Rapid Rewards points (I probably get enough for a free flight once a year using this method) But they have iTunes and Starbucks gift cards as options too. Definitely worth the little time you’ll put into it.
So as you can see, there are lots of ways to make travel a reality for yourself if you really want to do so. What I typically do is plan the cost of a trip – airfare, hotel, food, tours, and spending money. Then I add on 10%, because who doesn’t run over budget on vacation?!? I look and see how much money I will have saved by the date of the trip, and then I can see how much more I will need to save or make to make the trip a reality. Then, I get to work. It is honestly as simple as that.
Travel can be a glorious experience. But no one wants to come home after their trip to a bunch of bills and credit card debt. Following the core principals of Save Money, Make Money, and Save on Everyday Things, you will be able to build a good travel fund that could take you to many exciting places. Where will your next journey be? And what do you do to help build the budget to get you there? Until next time, friends, Travel Joyful!