We buy less so we can travel more. We drive one car that cost us under $5,000, we buy what we need and we rarely go out to eat. It can be quite simple, but it is a lifestyle change.
Sleeping in a tent in the Serengeti- tired after a long day searching for a cheetah; stuffing chocolate croissants from Paris in my carry on; the smell of hyacinth in the fields of the Netherlands- my priorities have never been to have more things, it’s always been to see more places. I’ve been able to save thousands of dollars on an entry-level salary while still paying my bills (cell phone, student loan, rent, utilities, groceries) and still traveling. In my twenties I would travel and come home with an empty bank account and a few tears but now that I have a family, a little bit of a cushion is a must.
Here are some of my tips on how to spend less so you can travel more:
- Prioritize. What makes your heart soar? What luxuries do you need and what can you live without? For my family the answer is good food and travel. Those are the places we spend the majority of our money. Maybe for you it is going to the movies every week, having coffee out or buying the latest tech gadget. Whatever it may be, make a list of what your desires are and be honest. Once you have that list go back through and think, what could I cut out of this to save a little more money? It is okay if you want to buy a $4 coffee out, but maybe cut it down to once or twice a week. Pocket the extra cash in a jar or a savings account and watch it add up.
- Buy less stuff. Simple. While having a beautiful wardrobe is something I would love to have, it is not a priority for me. Buying a few staple pieces for your wardrobe that you will wear a lot is a great way to save money and also cut down on the “what the heck do I wear” issue. I would much rather be wearing my jeans that I have had since college while on an airplane on the way to a fabulous destination, than be on the ground with the latest threads and no travel plans.
- Meal plan and eat leftovers. I only have 3 mouths to feed at the moment so my grocery bill may not be as high as yours, but something that saves me the extra spending is meal planning. I go to the grocery store typically once a week with the occasional extra trip for a craving or something we ran out of, like bananas. Before you go to the store, create a list for the week of what you will cook and the ingredients for the recipes. Try and include everything you may need for a week’s time so that you don’t have to make a second or third trip. And don’t forget leftovers! I always up the recipe to include extras for lunch and dinner the next day. Hugeeee money saver. I love Minimalist Bakers recipes. Simple, easy, healthy.
- Look at the big things. Do you have a monthly car payment? Any credit card debt with huge interest? Do you have an expensive gym membership or are you spending tons on wine? When you write out your finances you may be surprised on where you are spending and that perhaps, it is an unnecessary expense. If you are driving the newest car and it’s costing you $300 a month plus the extra cost on insuring a new car, it really adds up. For my family, a huge car payment is a great place to cut cost. We have a Subaru that we love, is great in the winter, safe and reliable. Another idea is to look at your bills that have interest. It may be a good idea to take some savings, or save especially to pay off this bill. If you have high interest or interest at all, that is money that could be yours.
- Free money. Save your coins, cash in your bottles and keep track of your frequent flyer miles. My husband saves all of his change so he can buy shoes. He loves new shoes and every few months manages to save hundreds in coins alone. That is an expense that may have come out of our monthly income. And as far as frequent flyer miles, this is basically free travel! I flew from Ghana to Tanzania round trip on my built up miles. And you don’t have to do anything but travel to get those perks!
In the end, the best thing for you to do is to write down your expenses and look at where you can cut costs. You will be shocked at the money you can save. Those little tiny savings add up to the trip of your dreams.