Ahhhh the ever-looming task of saving money to travel. For some it’s easier than others, but we can all agree it’s one of the biggest hurdles to overcome as you begin to plan a trip. In addition to creating a budget and savings schedule (that’s a key element), we also do several little things to help fund our trips. You can listen to our podcast episode on this below and keep reading for more!
1. Get yourself a glass jar
Yayaya, I know it’s a simple one. But, it works if you make it. I have a big glass apple juice jar that sits on top of my fridge and when I’m saving money for a trip, I drop cash in there several times a week. Sometimes I even make it a kind of game and make rules like, every time I have a 5 dollar bill, it goes in the jar. It works out even better if I have multiple 5’s!
Think, if you have a year to save for your trip and you put your spare cash and coins in there, you can save up quite a bit. Usually I give the money in the jar a specific purpose, like paying for accommodations or a rental car.
For a ten day road-trip through France and Germany, my glass jar paid for the entire rental car reservation for all ten days! Which is pretty cool, right?!
2. Make a separate bank account just for travel
Saving money for everything in life is already hard enough. Especially when you have a general savings account, and definitely if you’re just putting your travel savings into your checking account. It is SO easy to spend it and there are always things that come up in life that you could probably use that extra money.
To combat this problem, I have a separate bank account at a whole different bank than my everyday money is located. This separate bank account is not connected to a bank card I carry with me everyday and I have to physically go to the bank to take money out. This takes out a lot of the convenience and makes it pretty difficult for me to spend that money. The only reason I would dip into that travel money would be if it was an emergency of some sort and my regular savings wouldn’t cover it.
Make a commitment to putting away money specifically for travel.
3. Work towards becoming more financially responsible
This is one of those adulting things that kinda sucks, but when you work on it, it makes you feel like mayyyybe you are actually doing okay in life. This tip is in reference to essentially spending your money where your priorities are. If your priority is buying your first home, your spending would probably reflect that, and you would make financial decisions based on being able to afford that expense. The same thing goes for travel.
For example, now that traveling is a high priority in my life, a lot of my other pretty frivolous expenses have gone by the wayside. What does that entail? Well, that means I buy groceries and cook my own food the majority of the time, I cancelled my expensive gym membership that I really enjoyed going to, and I don’t spend much money going out to dinner or movies.
Here are a few things I swapped out to be more financially responsible:
went to the grocery store and cooked meals, even when I didn’t feel like it
cancelled an expensive gym membership and worked out at home instead
stopped buying stupid shit I did not need
started having date nights at home — making a nicer dinner and renting a movie, going on free adventures around town, etc.
reduced the amount of times I went out to coffee shops and got nicer coffee at home which was still less expensive in the long-term
reduced my online shopping and only purchased things which I felt I really needed
In doing these few small things, I spent my money as a reflection of my priorities.
4. Track your finances
Keeping track of everything you spend is not something that thrills me (or many other people) to their core. I don’t do it on a regular basis. However, when I got serious about saving money for travel, I took a look at several months of spending to see where I could trim some fat.
The first thing I did was put together a spreadsheet to keep track of my expenses. This includes EVERYTHING: my fixed costs (all the stuff that is a the same amount every month) like rent, car insurance, and Netflix, and also my variable expenses such as groceries, gas, and entertainment.
Keep track of your expenses this way for a couple months; I did this for about 3 months.
There are some other solutions, rather than a spreadsheet, to help you keep track of exactly where you’re spending your money. Here are a few tools I use currently.
This is a free app that works very well. If you use your bank card for basically all of your purchases and spending, this will work nicely for you. Because it is connected to your bank and therefore your bank card to track expenses, if you use cash for some larger expenses on a regular basis, this won’t be very helpful, or accurate, for you.
It’s great for creating a budget, especially for an upcoming trip! For example, you can make a budget for a trip, enter the date you need to save that amount of money by, and you’ll be given the amount you need to save per month in order to reach that goal.
I like using the desktop version of Mint because there are so many features, it’s nice to have them all spread out and easily navigable on your computer. The app works just fine for the basics, but it’s great to sit down at your computer a couple times a month and make sure you’re on track with all of your financial goals.
Mint also allows you to put in your income, what bills are due when (and sends you reminders to pay them), set financial goals like saving for a trip or buying a home, and really helps lay out what money is coming and going where.
As you track your expenses and see where you can trim certain things down, you can enter monthly budgets for things like restaurants, and enter the amount you want to budget for that month. As an example, I have $50 a month allocated towards restaurants. This way, throughout the month I can keep track of that and try to stick as closely (ideally, under) to that dollar amount.
Okay, Acorns is more of an investment platform rather than a tool to track your money going in and out. Here’s how it works:
You link up your bank cards with Acorns. Every time you purchase something with those cards, Acorns will round up that amount to the nearest dollar and invest the spare change. Cool, right?
Example: You purchase gas for $40.40. Acorns rounds up the remaining $0.60 and transfers that amount to your portfolio.
You have the option of just rounding up to the nearest dollar, OR you can multiply your round-ups.
Example: You purchase gas for $40.40. You have your round-ups set to multiply by 2x. This means your original $40.40 will be rounded up the remaining $0.60 and then that $0.60 will be multiplied by 2. This means for this transaction, Acorns will pull $1.20 ($0.60 x 2) and place it in your investment portfolio.
Still with me? Great.
In addition to round-ups, you can set an amount for Acorns to round-up to. I round-up anything that is over the CENT amount of 25 cents. A tad bit confusing, right? Okay, let me try an example.
Example: I buy lunch and the total is $7.25. Acorns rounds-up to $8, and puts the extra $0.75 in my portfolio.
However, if I buy lunch and the total is $7.24 (less than $0.25), Acorns does NOT round-up, and leaves that transaction alone.
You can set this value to whatever you prefer. If you want to round-up everything over $0.01 you can. If you only want to round-up anything over $0.75, that works too. Play around with it, and see if you are saving how much you want to be!
The last great feature I use occasionally are one-time investments. This means, every once in awhile, if I have a little extra money, I’ll go into the app and contribute $5 or $10. No round-ups, just straight from my account into Acorns.
Next, how does it actually work though?
Just like if you were to get an investment account through your bank, you basically give them money and the company invests small amounts in a diverse selection of companies. Got that?
So, if we take a look at an Acorns account (below), you can see what percentage of your money has been invested in which companies. You also have the ability to look at the year-to-date performance of those stocks and check how they are doing.
If you are using this platform to save your extra money for something like, I don’t know, a sweet adventure to Italy, when you’re ready to withdraw the money you simply go in and withdraw straight to your bank account. Pretty cool way to save for a trip, am I right?!
This way, you just set-up your round-ups to whatever you want, do a few one-time contributions when you have a little extra money in your account, and by the time your trip rolls around, you’ll have a little (or big) hunk of money!
If you want to get started on an Acorns account, you can get a free $5 from us to get you going towards your next adventure: Get yer FREE $5 here
One of my goals for 2018 was to work on becoming more financially savvy and stable. For me, that meant setting money goals that I’ve never really done before. For some reason, we don’t learn these VERY practical things in school (seriously, why is that?!) and so 2018 was my year to educate myself on saving money, learning more about retirement funds like IRA’s and Roth IRA’s, and lighting dabbling in investing. Thrilling, I know. But, apparently all a part of that adulting things I spoke of earlier. Here are some of the steps I took toward become more educated on all things money:
Podcasts: There are SO many good money-related podcasts out there on a variety of topics.
Radical Personal Finance
The Chris Hogan Show
The Dave Ramsay Show
The Investing for Beginners Podcast
Here you’ll find SO many great tips on saving for short-term, long-term, retirement and everything else. I frequently use this site for all kinds of my money-related questions. They also have banking information, a break down of pretty much every kind of credit card, investment, mortgage, and loan resources. Definitely check them out.
In fact, I use this resource so much that it’s been pinned to my shortcuts when I open Google!
This list would be remiss if it did not include Dave Ramsey! He’s all about helping people get out of debt and begin actually saving money.
5. Make More money
Hey! Wouldn’t we all love to make more money! If you are really looking to round-out your savings for a trip, consider a few ways to squeeze a little extra into your paycheck.
get a side hustle
Today, maybe more than ever, there are SO many small side jobs you can pick up to make some extra cash. You can drive for Lyft, deliver food through Postmates, become a part-time Amazon driver and deliver packages when you have spare time, do online virtual assistant work for a couple hours a week, do some dog-sitting through Rover, sign up to be an audio book narrator and read and record your voice reading books (this can actually be quite lucrative!) and a thousand other things that the sweet, sweet Internet has opened doors to.
ask for a raise
Alternatively, if you think you DESERVE a raise, go on and ask for one. Don’t just ask for a raise for the sake of getting a raise! If you truly think you deserve one, put together some reasons or stats and what you bring to the company, and prepare to have a discussion with your boss about negotiating a higher wage. Be confident, be prepared and by golly, go in there with some gumption!
Here’s a great article about preparing to ask for a raise: How to Ask For a Raise
As with anything else in life, saving money and being financially responsible is something you’ll have to work at. I’ve really only been making a conscience effort in the past few years, and there is still so, so much for me to learn! Work on saving money consistently and soon enough, you’ll develop a habit that allows you to save money for traveling, or buying a home, or a new car, or paying off student debt, and alllllll those other things you’ll need that pesky old cash for!
We would never advocate people spending ALL of their money on traveling. If you are going to travel, be responsible about it and look out for your future self as well. Spending every dime on galavanting through the world is all daisies, until you get home and can’t pay rent, or your car payment, and you have absolutely nothing saved for retirement, an emergency, a period of unexpected unemployment, or really anything else!
how do you save money for an upcoming trip? feel free to share your best tips in the comments below!
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