Let’s face it. Whether you’re saving for a one month trip or a year around the world, saving any amount of money for a once in a lifetime adventure can seem impossible. After I made the decision the first thing I did was figure out my budget for my first year around the world trip, I broke out in a cold sweat and forgot to breathe until someone informed me my face was turning purple.
My first thought was there was no way that I would ever be able to make that kind of money before my departure date, let alone save it. I had 22 months to save and I wanted this trip more than anything and so after regaining my breath, I put my mind to the task and realized saving isn’t hard if you are willing to sacrifice, work, and put your heart into it, and (of course practice good money management). I am now fourteen months into my quest, and I have made a few mistakes. I have had months in which my bank account has taken hits making my goal seem beyond possible to reach. At one point, after some serious car issues, I thought the whole trip was a bust and was about to throw in the towel, but I told myself giving up wasn’t an option. I have learned to stay the course. I have also learned some of the monetary mistakes I was making in my saving. Keeping with the motto that mistakes can be a good thing, I did some serious course correction, not only have I made that money back, I am ahead of my budget. Following these tips, I have seen my monthly saving goal increase by fifty-percent.
So the next time you say, “I would love to travel, but I just don’t have the money”, do a little victory dance because I am about to show you how to save that extra cash.
I feel like change always gets the short end of the stick. People underestimate how quickly it adds up. I love saving my change. In fact, when I buy something, I always pay in a way so that I get some sort of change back. I do this because saving your change is a way of tricking yourself about how much money you really have. Every four months I cash it all in. I have done this for the last eight months and already have saved over $1,300 in change! That is an international flight paid for just by making sure I put my change in a jar at the end of the night. Save your change and you will shock to see how much money you will save. The big money comes from saving your small money.
Save on gas
With the price of gas these days, a lot of gas companies are offering extra ways to save a little extra at the pump. I save mine through Walmart (don’t judge me). To save at WalMart, all you need to do is walk in and buy a gift card. Then buy gas with that gift card and save ten cents a gallon. While doing this won’t make you rich, every bit helps. I have saved over $200 since I started doing this. I also buy all these gas gift cards with my airline credit card. Chances are at least a few gas stations in your area offer some sort of savings.
Want to rack up major airline miles doing this? Of course you do, here is how!
A great way to earn some extra miles is buying your gas saving gift cards through an airline’s mileage mall. You earn bonus miles for every dollar spent plus the miles for using your card. So essentially you are earning 2-3 miles per dollar to save money on gas. Doing this I earn around 1200 miles a month for gas I have to buy anyway. Get more bang for your buck. There are also some great tips to get really cheap flights.
Never walk into a store and just buy something. Shop around at different places and/or look online. A lot of the time, there are better deals online. Also take your time; chances are you don’t need that item this very minute. Many times, I will wait days or weeks to see if something goes on sale before I buy it. For example, I just bought my brand new RTW trip backpack. At full price it goes for around $250. I didn’t want to pay that much for a backpack and decided to check around. I checked Amazon, Ebay, and other various sites until I found one on sale. Suddenly I slashed that 250$ to just over a $100. Taking the time to do a little comparative shopping paid off. I also have shopped around for tickets, tours and flights for my trip and by waiting for deals, sales, and watching flight prices, I have saved over $5000 from what I originally expected to pay. That is my whole stay in Asia right there.
Short Term Goals Increase Your Chances of Reaching your Long Term goals
For the longest time, I only had monthly goals. No matter what I did I would have to hit X$ a month. When I had a monthly goal, I would buy little things like coffee and snacks throughout the day which added up to a good amount over the month. Then I moved to weekly goals and eventually to a daily goal and that is when I saw my savings skyrocket. Now if I am struggling to reach my daily goal, I will make the necessary sacrifices and cuts to reach it. As a side note, if you happen to make over your daily goal, it is a wise choice to save all of it. You never know what unsuspecting expenses might hit you in the future.
Always push yourself.
At first when I hit a monthly goal, I would just blow the rest of the money. That was stupid and foolish. More than once, something would go wrong the very next month that would cause me to be reaching into my savings, spending money I couldn’t afford to spend and leaving me unable to reach that monthly goal. Now when I hit my savings goal, I look at how many more days in the month that I have left to save and set a new goal. Then the next month, I set my monthly goal higher. I make this a game and challenge myself. There is nothing so rewarding as setting out to accomplish something and finishing it.
Automatic Withdrawals are not always a good thing.
Before you can trim the fat of your expenses, you need to keep records of your savings. I always write how much I saved that day, as well as how much I spent. This is important for later when you are trying to cut your expenses. Be consistent about it. It is important to know how much you are making and spending so you know how much you can save a month. It may not be fun cutting some of your expenses but it adds up fast. After a few months of saving, I realized I was blowing money on stuff that I had set up to automatically withdraw from my bank. It totaled around $80 a month. I cut 90% of that stuff out. Over my 22 month saving period that is $1,760. Automatic withdrawals add up and people don’t really think about that money since they are not handing it over directly. Get rid of that stuff.Here is another example. I was buying two or three cups of coffee a day (I am a coffee addict) as well as spending an average of 8 dollars on lunch a day. That is around $915 in coffee and around $2,440 on lunch over my 22 months saving period. I switched to making enough coffee for the day at my house at a fraction of the price. For food, I switched to finding cheaper options for around $4 a day. Just those two examples add up to almost five grand. FIVE grand! You can do a crazy amount of traveling on five grand. That is worth cutting some things out. Of course, I don’t know your expenses, but I am willing to bet there are things you can cut out. You don’t have to cut everything out. Just make a list, cut what you can, and watch your saving soar.
Always Keep the Goal on the Forefront.
Focusing is single-handedly the most important thing you can do. Keep reminding yourself of your goal and what you are working towards. Find ways to stay excited to save. Here are a few things I do when I find myself losing focus. I read other travel blogs. If I am struggling with saving money in one month I read blogs such as further bound. Hannah from Further Bound who went from being 24k in debt to having 24k to travel in 18 months. That is inspiration right there. If I am trying to fix my budget I look at sites like Nomadic Matt who is the master of budget travel. I look at pictures of places I want to go our work on my bucket list to keep my travel excitement level high all the time. If you focus your vision on your trip you won’t want to spend your money on other things. Gillian from One Giant Step gave me some great advice, “We always thought of every dollar we spent as what it would cost us somewhere else. For example, the thought that money could mean two beers or an entire night in Thailand worked like a dream!!” Approach your savings like that and you won’t have any trouble at all.
Saving for a trip doesn’t have to leave you on the verge of a heart attack. I have learned by trial and error but once I discovered these tips, I saw an immediate increase in my daily savings. That is huge. Now I make a game out of it. I try to find new ways and tricks to save a little extra money each month. The important thing is to stay focused, challenge yourself, and remember why you are saving. That will give you all the passion and drive you need to reach your budget.