Do you dream of traveling the world? Are you dying to see sites that up til now you’ve only viewed in magazines, movies, or on TV? “Yes, of course, I want to travel,” you say, “but I don’t have money to travel.”
Balderdash, I say! (Sometimes using old fashioned words can be so fun!) Anyone on any budget can save money for travel; you just need to learn how.
Most of the money-saving tips here apply to anyone who wants to save money for any reason. For you, the traveler, the key is being dedicated to putting these savings into your travel account. How to save money for travel? There is only one way .. Commit to Travel!
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How To Save Money For Travel? Create A Plan
Assess Your Travel Goals
First things first, assess your travel goals. Have you planned out a trip? Traveling for two weeks is a lot different than traveling for six months. How much is this really going to cost?. What are the must-see places on your list? Are some of them free or low cost?
Be honest with yourself, do the research, and make a realistic travel plan. Once you know the price of the type of travel you want to do, you are ready for the next step. It is time to look at your financial picture.
Know Your Cash Flow
I love numbers. Yes, I was a geek or nerd back in school, taking all the math classes and enjoying them. Most of us are not those people. But with today’s technology, there are many ways you can get a grip on your finances. Use these tools to rule your finances!
Start by tracking your money. If you are not already using money tracking software, now is the time.
Quicken is a great tool that I’ve used for some time that has mobile and desktop applications. You might also try Mint, which is a mobile site from Intuit, a very reputable company.
You can even use a simple spreadsheet like Excel or Google Sheets. The point is to track your income and expenses.
You will probably want to track your cash flow for a couple of months before you start looking at saving. This will give you a clearer picture of ways to reduce spending.
One of the easiest ways to save money for travel is to reduce mindless spending (see below!). You will find areas where you can save money once you know your actual income and expenses. This is a great way to jump-start your savings plan.
Assess Your Banking Relationships
Hopefully, you have a free checking account. There is nothing worse than having to pay some bank to hold your money! But if your account isn’t free or you don’t like your bank, you should look around for a new account.
Ally Bank (an online bank) offers free checking, 0.50% on savings, and access to over 43,000 free ATMs. For a more traditional banking relationship, CapitalOne offers free checking with no minimum balance and 0.40% on savings.
Once you have a good checking account, that bank will be happy to set up a savings account for you to use for Travel.
Create A Dedicated Travel Fund
Yes, you need to have a dedicated account for your travel funds. If your travel money sits in your regular spending account, you will spend it. Set it aside, let it earn a little bit of interest. Don’t think about this money except for each month when you reconcile your accounts. As you see the balance grow, you will feel yourself being one step closer to that jetway and your next trip!
Make Savings Automatic
Decide how much you want to save each month. Then have the money you want to save for travel automatically withdrawn from your checking account and deposited into your travel savings account. You can set up these withdrawals to happen weekly or monthly. Many people have the money transferred on the same days as their paycheck is deposited.
Use Credit Wisely
Most of us have a credit card or two. I talk a lot about Rewards Cards in my post on planning for travel. To get the most points, I use my credit card for almost all daily transactions: groceries, gas, hair cuts, whatever. I am a point junkie!
What’s important to remember as you save money for travel is to make sure you are not incurring costs while using these cards.
Late fees on credit cards often come with hefty penalties. There is generally a fee for late payments of around $39, and they tack interest on the outstanding balance. If your balance is $1,500 and your interest rate is 15.99%. The credit card company will tack on another $20 or so in interest.
You pay one day late, and your fees that month are now close to $60. Ouch! The value of the points you earned for using the card has now been erased by the fees you have to pay.
We all have busy lives, and bill payments are often forgotten. Set up automatic payments for the full balance on the card(s) to make sure the card is paid each month on time. You can do this on your credit card’s website site. This is the easiest as the card company knows your due date and your balance.
How to Save Money For Travel? Reduce Mindless Spending!
Eat Out Less
Going out to lunch with friends is a great way to break up the workday. But it’s also a significant expense. This article from Howstuffworks shows that bringing lunch to work everyday costs an average of $4 versus $10 spent eating out.
The savings of $6 per day adds up to $1,500 in a year. So grab your brown bag and your friends and walk over to the nearest park. You can still enjoy the break from work. But you will also be saving money, probably be eating healthier and getting some exercise as well.
Cook Dinner At Home
Forbes analyzed the cost saved by cooking at home versus restaurant delivery and meal kit services. The results: restaurant delivery was five times (5X) more expensive and meal kits three times (3X) pricier than cooking at home from scratch.
A good meal cooked at home from scratch comes out to about $4.00 per serving. The same meal in a meal kit is around $10.00. If you order restaurant delivery, expect to pay approximately $20.00 per serving.
You probably eat dinner every night. Let’s say you’ve been using a meal-kit service for three of those meals and ordering from restaurants for the other four. That’s a total of $110.00 each week for dinner for one person.
If you swap out just three of the restaurant dinners for home cooking, you can save $48.00 each week. That’s nearly $2,500 each year you could be putting towards your travel savings.
Don’t even get me started on fancy coffee!
Save Money Shopping In Person Or Online
Join your grocery store’s loyalty program. Once you are in the program, you will get better pricing on things you buy frequently and offers that only are available when using the card.
Many cards also offer perks like money off your gas fill-ups. For example, the Safeway program I’m in offers rewards that you can use to get up to $0.20 per gallon at Chevron on gas. Most people fill up their car about once a week. With an average fill-up of 12 gallons, the savings are $2.40 per week or around $125.00 per year.
Have you thought about clipping coupons? Ok, maybe this throwback to the 1960s is not your cup of tea…Also, who reads print material these days. But you can still get money off the things you buy.
The modern-day equivalent of clipping coupons are apps that give you cash back. Ibotta and Checkout 51 are apps for your smartphone. Set up your account, scan your receipts, and get cash back after you shop! The average rebates from these apps are about $20 per month. That’s $240 a year in money you get to put in your travel savings account
There are many cash back portals for online retail. Rakuten and RetailMeNot both offer cashback on purchases in amounts ranging from 1% – 6%. If you spend around $300 per month and average a 3% rebate, you would get cash back of $9.00. That comes to nearly $110 per year.
Have Movie Night At Home With Friends
Watching a movie at home with friends and family is always going to be less expensive than going out. Maybe you’ve cut the cord and aren’t paying for cable tv. But, Do You Have Too Many Streaming Subscriptions?
Are you paying for Netflix (avg $15.00/mo); Disney+, Hulu and ESPN ($12.99/mo); HBOMax ($14.99/mo). And, of course, Amazon Prime! Yes, this gets you more than Amazon Prime Video. Think about it.
Amazon Prime, including Prime Video, is $119 per year. Amazon Prime Video by itself, is sold for $8.99 per month. You aren’t really signing up for the free shipping; these days, you can get that almost anywhere. Use all the benefits of your Amazon Prime Account.
If you ditch just one of your streaming subscriptions with an average cost of $14.00 per month, you will save around $170.00 per year.
Review Your Cell Phone Contract
Are you paying too much for your cell phone service? As the competition continues to grow in the mobile phone market, the carriers are dropping prices. If you haven’t checked your package in more than 12 months, you can likely get the same service at a better price. And chances are you can get even more savings by switching carriers.
My husband and I recently switched from one carrier to another. Our combined monthly cost was around $165.00 (two iPhones and one iPad with cell service) before the switch. After the change, the same service, the same devices will cost around $100 per month—savings of $65 per month; $780 per year.
Painless Changes In Spending Are How to Save Money For Travel
These simple changes in spending will save or earn you around $450.00 each month. That’s over $5,000 a year! But remember when we talked about making savings automatic? If you want this cash to be dedicated to travel, you need to make that happen.
Each time you make one of these changes automatically set up a recurring monthly transfer for that amount from your checking account to your Travel Account.
Get A Side Hustle
Today it’s easier than ever to have a second source of income. The sharing economy makes it easier than ever to earn extra money on the side. You don’t have to take the late shift at the drive-thru asking folks if they want fries with their burger. The list of things you can do is long, but here are a few to get you started.
Sell items on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Letgo
Were you a fashionista in your previous life and now have many nearly new “brand-name” items? You can sell these goodies. And as long as you sell items for less than you paid, this is probably not taxable income.
Drive for Uber or Lyft
A friend who had to drive into the City for work used to spend rush hour ferrying people around to after-work cocktails as an Uber. Once traffic died down, they headed for home, and the drive home was more manageable. They made about $100 each evening doing this!
Deliver for Shipt or Door Dash
If you don’t want the hassle of driving actual people around in your car, you can always just bring stuff to others driving for Shipt or Door Dash and earn some green.
Rent your spare room on Airbnb
If you rent, make sure your lease/landlord allows this.
Freelance Writing or Virtual Assistant
If you write well, or are an extremely organized individual, look into doing these things virtually for others. Writers can make an average of $50 for a five-hundred-word article. A virtual assistant is usually pad by the hour with rates around $15.00 per hour.
Just remember that if you are earning money, you need to pay taxes on that income. Be sure to set dollars aside for Uncle Sam.
Saving money is hard. Humans a pre-wired to go for immediate rewards. When you look at how to save money for travel, you can find hundreds of things you want to spend that money on now. But it’s best to keep your eyes on the prize.
The most important piece of advice on how to save money for travel is finding ways to stay focused on your travel goal. Watch travel shows on TV. Read books on traveling. Place a wall map prominently in your living space and pin all the places you’ve been and want to on the map.
Fill your social media with travel stories; it’s easy to do. On Pinterest, once you type in travel, you will get travel pins forever. Follow the many travel writers, photographers, and influencers on Instagram. And, of course, join travel groups on Facebook.
Once you have the basics of how to save money for travel down, you will find many other things you once thought were necessities that you can eliminate from your budget. With money in the bank, you’ll be able to live your dream and hit the road. We look forward to seeing you out there!