When I talk about a trip or vacation we’ve recently taken, I’m usually met with some depressed, envious looks. I get a lot of, “Must be nice!” or “We could never afford a trip like that!” Then, I start to feel a little guilty about our trips and vacations!
I have to remind myself that we all have different priorities! My husband and I have a goal in this blog. That goal is to get you spending time together as a couple and we’re very passionate about traveling together (i.e. having life changing experiences together as you see the world together). But, like all good things in life, a sacrifice has to be made – but, not a huge sacrifice. Small, smart choices today have huge payoffs down the road.
Small hinges move big doors.
We live in a microwave society. We want money now! Then, we want to spend the money right away. We want to look rich today, and then realize we aren’t really rich tomorrow! We scrimp and save to go on a wonderful, elaborate vacation, but then ten years go by before we even consider another vacation.
I’m no finance expert, but if travel is a priority, then saving money for travel needs to be a lifestyle! My husband and I don’t save with a vacation in mind, but we track each penny carefully, knowing that if we forego some fleeting luxury today, we can have the opportunity for some unforgettable travel tomorrow! We don’t make detailed budget plans and spreadsheets or hold each other to strict regimes. We remember our priorities and try to live a lifestyle that feeds our priority.
These are a few things that we’ve decided as a couple aren’t worth it! We’d rather travel than lose a few dollars to these regular lifestyle choices!
Choosing not to eat out is a very small sacrifice with HUGE payoffs! While traveling, we get to try elaborate dishes and exotic cuisine. While at home, we get to feed our bodies well and protect our health in the hopes of traveling for many more decades. We probably eat out once or twice a month, but we’d rather have a quality homemade dinner date on our porch than an expensive burger and soda. I’m shocked when I see people drop $10-20 per meal at a restaurant. According to The Simple Dollar, an average American spends $12.75 on a meal outside the home and eats out 18.2 times every month. I spend about $50/week on groceries per person which comes out to just over $7/day (NOT per meal) and about $400/month. I save AT LEAST $25 / week this way. In four months, I could purchase flights to Costa Rica!
I’m beginning to think breakfast (the smallest and quickest meal of the day) may actually be the biggest money waster. I know….you have to have your morning coffee, so brew it yourself! Iced coffee? Make your coffee the night before and dress it up in the morning. Make the muffins, scones, or pastries over the weekend. Honestly, $4-5 for a muffin is extortion, and $4-5 adds up quickly for your next trip! Let’s talk numbers. I haven’t bought a coffee or pastry for breakfast in over a year (vacations excluded). I’m thinking that at $5/day, I’ve saved at least $1500. Wow! That’s easily more than a week in Thailand (flights included)! YES! I’d choose Thailand!
Ladies, this one is for you! I don’t want to argue with you about the importance (or necessity) of these “little luxuries of life.” I know everyone justifies these things by labeling them as “self care” or “a gift to myself.” Like I said, priorities. But, let’s say you only get ONE pedicure a month, that’s probably about $420/year. If you do the manicures, we’re probably close to $700/year. And, we haven’t even touched the facials and cosmetics. Take your pick! There’s a lot of countries you can visit for $700.
The entertainment industry is booming and doesn’t need your support. The average American household spends over $3,000 / year on entertainment. Set a limit to how much you are going to spend on entertainment each month. Start small and notice a big difference in your bank account. Set aside $25 / month and save up for a few months if you plan to attend some high-priced concert or sporting event. It’s not that you can’t have fun and chase around your favorite pop stars, but just keep your priorities straight! If you had to choose between a ticket to an NBA basketball game or a few days in Jamaica, which would you choose? Ultimately, it’s your decision!
Does anyone care what car you drive? Will anyone remember the year of your car? Nope. I don’t even remember my car’s year. Find a reliable, used car that can get you from point A to point B without all the bells and whistles. You might even be able to pay cash! If you can reduce your car payments a little or a lot, put the difference aside and consider it vacation money! Woo-hoo!
Many budget-conscious people set aside a certain amount per month to be spent on clothes! That’s a great idea, but don’t feel the need to spend it. Your clothes will last you a long, long time, so just try to see how many months you can go without buying ANY clothing. Let’s be honest! Your current closet could probably clothe you for the next five years, no problem! So, why are you still shopping? Just remember that money spent on clothing is money you will never see again; meanwhile, clothes that you don’t wear continue to pile up in your house. Don’t let fashion be the obstacle that keeps you from a life well-traveled.
Make your home a place of comfort, peace, joy, and family, but then let it be! You live out of your home – meaning, in reality, you spend very little time in your home doing anything but sleeping! People visit your home for you, not to critique your decor and cleanliness. The wall color, the pillows, the appliances, the flooring, and the light fixtures don’t need changed every other season! Let it be! Don’t be a slave to your home. Free yourself from the constant updates and expectation and go travel the world!
Saving money is a mindset change. At first, it isn’t easy. It wasn’t easy for me, but now, I’m proud of the many ways I save money every week. I keep every penny accounted for. I keep track and hold myself accountable. Try keeping track of where your money goes and set a few limitations for yourself! The goal is to keep your money home so you can go live a life well-traveled!