“Money makes the world go round”… I’m not exactly sure who said that or where it originated from but it’s just one of those statements that we hear time and again in our lives. So yes, money does have something to do with “making the world go round” – or in the case of you wanderlusters out there who dream of traveling – money has something to do with making you “go round” the world.
I’m not about to take an official poll or anything… but I would be willing to put $$$$ on it that if I asked the question, “What holds you back from your travel dreams?” — the #1 answer BY FAR would be MONEY.
Flashback to May 2012, I was in a cycle of: earn paycheck -> pay bills -> cry at my bank statement (or something along those lines). It seemed hopeless for me to ever be able to scrimp together enough money to step foot out of my neighborhood.
However, I had a never ending burning desire and passion in me to travel this beautiful earth. There was no IF I would travel – it was just a matter of WHEN and HOW. I decided it was time to woMAN up and figure my shit out.
I’ve always been a pretty thrifty person and loved a good deal, but I knew there were things I could improve upon to help me save money for my precious travel fund.
Blah blah Blah I could go on and on but let’s just get to the point.
I DID IT.
It’s September 17, 2014 and today marks my 5 month travel anniversary!
How did I go from bills bills bills to thrills thrills thrills?
Here are 15 actions I personally took to SAVE MONEY and make my travel dreams come true.
1. SELL YOUR STUFF – I had yard sales and sold as much of my stuff as I could. Furniture, decorations, clothes, purses, accessories etc. I was committed to living a life of travel and realized I wouldn’t be needing all of this “stuff”. I kept some sentimental items that I store at my moms in a few large plastic tubs. Aside from that, I sold and donated EVERYTHING else.
2. BROWN BAG IT – Pack your lunch. Cook your dinner. Drink water. I still enjoy the occasional night out, but the majority of my meals I prepare myself. I find things I love and eat them over and over again. Keeps it simple, healthy, and cheap.
3. CAFE ALA YOU – Ohhhh do I love a hot cup of yummy coffee. Some coffee drinks are just ridiculously priced (I personally loved the chai tea latte with soy from Starbucks which was like $4 <— dumb). Prepare what you can at home and take a travel mug. I would treat myself to Wawa (a convenience store) coffee a few times a week in the cold winter months — but it cost only $1.40.
4. STOP DRINKING (ha just kidding – DRINK SMARTER) – We’ve all done it… paid $15 for some fancy schmancy cocktail in a posh lounge. What suckers we are! A night of drinking can put quite a dent in your bank account and leave you feeling like shit (literally… freaking hangovers). Your options are to just quit drinking altogether and bank that money — OR learn to drink smarter. I’m over my bar days so I’d much rather get a bottle of wine and enjoy it with a friend at home.
5. BINGE WATCH NETFLIX – When I lived in California we never signed up for cable. Some packages cost over $100 per month and thats just NUTS. I don’t like TV THAT much to justify the expense. With all the internet sharing sites you have hours of entertainment (a lot of it FREE!). Netflix is cheap and they now offer multiple user profiles so you can team up with people (or mooch off your mom. THANKS MOM!). Hulu has some free content. Afdah.com has a ton of stuff. And then… there is always YOUtube!
6. MOVE – This is obviously a BIG ONE and requires open mindedness. However, if you really need to cut back your expenses… find a cheaper place to live temporarily. I moved from California back to Pennsylvania (which I thought I would NEVER DO) to sleep on an air mattress at my moms for 8 months to save money. Was it at ideal situation?? — HELL freaking no! Am I forever grateful that I have a mom and her husband that helped me out – HELL YEA (thanks again MOM!). You don’t need to go as extreme as shacking up with your parents but do take a look and see if there is a potential to save money on rent.
7. CLIP THOSE COUPONS – I’m more privy to Groupons. Need a haircut? GROUPON. Fancy a massage? GROUPON. Date night? GROUPON. There are many other deal sites out there that you really shouldn’t be paying full price for anything. You don’t have to get all Extreme Couponing up in here – just be a wise consumer and reap the savings.
8. WANTS VS. NEEDS – Get a grip on yourself… seriously. You need to develop a strong will power in regards to frivolous purchases. When you are about to spend money think “Do I NEED this? or do I just want this?” — Aim to win the battle 90% of the time and you will save yourself some cash.
9. DOLLAR STORE – You will be amazed how much you can save at this place! If you’ve never been in one check it out and survey the goods. You can get anything from kitchenware to first aid stuff… cleaning stuff, paper goods, etc.
10. WASTE NOT WANT NOT – I would get so irritated with myself when I would throw away food because it went bad. Pay attention to your consumption and make sure you are using EVERYTHING you buy. That goes for leftovers too 🙂
11. QUIT THE GYM – I was on the fence about this one. I quit in Cali. Then I rejoined in Pennsylvania. If you use it at least five times a week – keep it. If not, cancel and do at home workouts. There are tons of free resources on the internet. Youtube a video or check out Bodyrock.tv which has quick and intense at home workouts.
12. SELL YOUR CAR – I still had a car payment on my car so there was no way I was keeping it when I left. I did wait until the last week to sell it but I profited a bit of money that went straight to my travel fund! I also cancelled my insurance policy and got a “non car owner” policy that is a few dollars a month (which will save me money when I come back to the USA and get another car. There will be no “gap in coverage” <– This was recommended to me by USAA and upon looking into it its a smart move).
13. FOR THE LOVE OF THE LIBRARY – I love to read. I’m a total book whore. I love to write in books, highlight, make notes — it’s like crack for me or something. Buying books can get expensive though. Therefore, if you like to read like me, join your local library and fulfill your addiction that way. Just don’t write in them… obviously 🙂
14. TRACK YOUR EXPENSES – If you really want a reality check of where your money is going… keep a journal and write down EVERYTHING you spend. I thought I knew where my money was going until I did this exercise and the first month I realized I had $1,000 of frivolous spending! HOLY SHIT RIGHT? Plus the act of having to write it down might just stop you in the act of buying something dumb that you don’t need.
15. BUY SECOND HAND – Go pop some tags at your local Thrift Shop. When I moved back to Pennsylvania I needed some cold weather clothes. I visited a local consignment store and got some name brand stuff on the cheap.
Take it day by day and dollar by dollar and soon enough you will start seeing that TRAVEL FUND balance increase!