A self-funded project is always the most satisfying. Whether its an expensive experience or a much needed weekend getaway or a cherished gadget for your trip, its possible to own it/achieve it.
I have listed a few techniques that I have utilized in budgeting for life’s luxuries. The most successful and the cherished of them all is my travel fund.
When I started working, I had a student loan and was struggling to make it big in the corporate world. I remember taking a road trip from Saskatoon to Edmonton with just $100 in bank account and a $50 pre-paid visa card. It was Christmas 2011, the trip was memorable nevertheless. I was able to celebrate Christmas in a new city and visited the city’s highlights (like Legislative Assembly, Fort Edmonton Park, West Edmonton Mall shopping spree on Boxing Day, Candy Cane Lane to name a few). My go-to food places were regular fast food chains. This trip was remarkable in many ways – it taught me that I should travel, no matter what, also that I should save in advance for impromptu trips, ’cause just like life, travel could just happen!
- Visualizations (and Affirmations) – Do you love travelling? Do you wish to travel? How far do you wish to go or just somewhere nearby? Is there any activity/experience that you would like to do while travelling? Which country would you like to explore and why? Answering these questions will help you to set clear goals and infuse self-discipline. Its easy to get distracted especially when travel adventure is months away and immediate self indulgence is close by. Use desktop wallpapers, sticky notes at work or “to-do-list” with country sights that you wish to visit. Stay focused and think – travels.
- Set Goals and Start your Travel Fund – Now that you are aware of what kind of trip you wish to take. Set goals in terms of expenses. I would like to share the following techniques that I used for travel funds as well as for luxury buys.
- Super-Saver – This method of creating a fund works for everything like emergency fund to travels to luxuries. I was saving everything to travel fund after paying off the bills. Create a monthly goal (for travel fund) after deducting the bills. This technique may not work for a long time. However, one can go aggressively saving for 3 months, slow down and pick up again for 3 months. As long as you don’t touch the savings, you are golden.
- Dedicated Saver – Think of this technique as paying for your mortgage. Come what may you pay a set aside amount each month. Set aside 10% of the monthly income as travel fund.
- “For the event saving” – This is the most common and easy to follow technique. Lets say you want to go for a Mediterranean cruise and this cruise will cost you $2500, and you are planning to take this cruise 6 months from now. Set the specific goal of $2500 and save.
For me, I switch between the first and second type of saver. There are many trips that I had taken that were impromptu in nature. Having that travel fund gives me the flexibility to take trips when I want. Its great too when you want to escape somewhere and recharge your batteries.
- Budget/Saving Journal – Highlight the goal and keep track. If you fall behind or get distracted, revise and review the journal.
- Save & Save: Cut down on unnecessary expenses. Oh my! I was a spender. I loved to splurge on clothes and bags all the time. I calculated how much I was spending on bags in a year and re-aligned my priorities. A lot of life’s basics can be adjusted to. Like gym memberships, landline connections (everyone has a cell-phone), eating out, expensive data plan or gadgets, cable, etc I downsized quite a few things to create a comfortable travel fund. I know many people who got rid of their internet connection at home and went to libraries for their research work. I could not do that, my work required wi-fi at home, however I did get rid of cable and owned no car for a few years of my work life.
- Pay off loans and credit cards – If you have loans to take care of, saving doesn’t work. Interest fees, if accumulated monthly is almost as much as buying a return ticket or a 5 night 3-star hotel stay. You can use the dedicated saver plan and pay off loans as well as create the travel fund.
- Freelancing or Part-time Work : You don’t have to be a blogger to earn money aside from your main occupation. It could be any freelance work (events management, tour guides, assistants, summer jobs). Online jobs to blogging to working part time and using that income to fund your travels is possible. In Canada, summer and winter (Christmas) there are part time opportunities that come up, take advantage of that and save some extra cash.
- Credit Card with miles and travel points – If you are good with credit cards, try to get cards with AirMiles points or any travel points/miles. These can be redeemed for free nights or flight tickets. WestJet and TD Canada’s Travel credit cards are very popular. If credit cards are not a thing for you, sign up for free membership with Marriott, Best Western, Wyndham, etc These hotel groups have properties all over the world and by staying at the same brand, you can avail their offers on free stay or upgrades.
Stay saving and build a journey of your dreams xoxo