“I just don’t have enough money to travel like you do.”
I hear this a lot.
If you want to continue to spend the way you do, then you will never have the money you need to travel. Travelers will tell you that saving money for travel is easy, and it’s true. But it is a trade-off.
Here are 10 habits anyone can adopt to save more money for the trip of their dreams.
1. DUH: QUIT STARBUCKS
This tip is everywhere because it’s a GOOD ONE. One $4 coffee 5 days a week equates to almost $1000 a year. Don’t want to give up coffee? A 2.5lb bag of Starbucks coffee from Costco will run you about $25. Let’s add $5 for milk and you’ve got yourself all the lattes you want for the month for $30. You’re still saving $600 a year.
2. LEARN TO GROCERY SHOP
When you grocery shop for items you eat or use regularly, look at the price per pound or per kilo. Go for the cheapest item per weight/unit—buying in bulk is your friend. Often this means spending a lot up front, but you will buy less often. Seeing a bigger number on the screen can be stressful, but remember that you are saving on hidden costs.
3. LEARN TO COOK
Going out to dinner with a drink twice a week costs at least $50. That’s $200 a month and $2400 a year. Cooking for yourself is fun and rewarding, and healthier a lot of the time! Visit farmers markets and buy what is in season for cheaper, better quality produce. Find easy recipes you enjoy cooking and eating. Cook with staple grains and buy them in bulk. Make your own snacks to avoid buying them when you are out.
4. TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORT, CARPOOL, WALK, OR BIKE
Yes, having a car is incredibly convenient, but it’s also expensive and a liability. To limit the money you spend on gas, look into alternatives for getting where you need to go. Walking and biking are my favorites. They’re free and make you feel great.
5. BRING YOUR LUNCH
Let’s pretend you spend $9 on lunch 5 times a week. That’s $45 a week, $180 a month, and a whopping $2160 a year on so-so takeout. Obviously you aren’t going to quit lunch—but the cost of bringing your own delicious creation to work is much lower. Even with a roomy budget of $4.50 per lunch, your home-made delicacies can save you $1080 per year.
6. STOP PARTYING (SO MUCH)
Look back over the past year and think of how many of your nights out were mediocre. We’re not trying to kill all the fun here, but you don’t need to spend your money on any more average nights at the bar. Be choosy when you go out—that not only includes when and where, but also what and how much you drink. If you cut out two beers (at $5 each) a week from what you normally drink, you’re up $40 for the month and $480 for the year. Also, no hangovers and no cash wasted on drunk pizza.
7. BUY A WATER BOTTLE
If you don’t have one already. Replace most liquids that you consume with water.
8. LIMIT “WANT” PURCHASES
Make a list of things you really need. Anything that isn’t on this list is a want. Anytime you want something that isn’t on the “need” list, give it at least a month. If you still want it a month later, go for it if your budget allows, and take the time to find it at the lowest price. If it was a frivolous purchase, you probably don’t still want it after a month has gone by.
9. WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU SPEND
I know people who don’t want to look at their bank accounts because they are afraid to see what they have spent. Is this you? Being aware of your spending is huge! Write down everything you spend normally for a week. You may be able to identify quite easily where you can further change your spending habits.
10. PUT YOUR SAVINGS IN A SAFE PLACE
Savings account, piggy bank, anywhere as long as it doesn’t go into The Black Hole of Money Sucking Mystery. Make it untouchable to you. Pretend it’s not there. You saved this money for a reason. Pay yourself first, because you’re awesome.
All of these things on this list are habits. They are lifestyle changes you make because you know it is worth it. Saving money for travel involves making your life a little bit less convenient, but carries with it a massive benefit of new life experiences and amazing memories.
Happy New Year! What’s your 2015 dream trip?