I travel quite a bit, and a common question I'm asked is, "Sandra, how do you travel so often?" Let me just be frank up front and say it's not because I make excellent money (yet).
The ability to travel abroad isn’t as unattainable as you might think - it takes discipline, focus and patience. You don’t have to have a ton of cash or a lavish lifestyle to afford a revolving travel calendar. I am becoming quite skillful in saving money and making my dollars stretch. All I need is a clear goal.
Eg. my next lofty goal is saving up for Trinidad Carnival 2018 and that's a pretttttttttty penny!
Here are a few strategies I am employing; perhaps suggestions you might incorporate to help save money for your next adventure.
1. Auto-Transfers to your Savings account.
Have a portion of your paycheck automatically transfer a set amount of money to your savings account every payday. It does not have to be very substantial, and soon enough you wont even think about it.
Perspective: If you transfer just $50 each paycheck, you'd have accrued $1200 by the end of the year. That's a healthy amount for Coachella 2018!
2. Eat Out Less.
Trust me, I know how much easier it is to buy food from your local deli at lunch time or to order that green curry from your favorite Thai restaurant, but that's at least $12 for each meal. The cost of these take-out meals adds up over time, and before you realize, you are spending $250 a month.
Perspective: $250 is all the spending money you need for a long weekend trip in Kingston, Jamaica.
3. Instead, designate days to eat out.
There are specific days when I treat myself to a meal or buy drinks. It's a line item in my monthly budget, and I typically budget about $150 per month. The closer I get to my next trip, the less I spend.
Perspective: Cooking can be fun! Eat in the comfort of your home, and dream about how that masquerade costume is gonna look since you're eating all healthy and ish.
4. Take Public Transportation.
If you live in a city like Chicago that has a great train/metro/subway system, this is a no-brainer. Get your monthly pass, and use public transportation to get to where you need to go. Uber is not economical, and fuel is expensive.
Perspective: An unlimited Chicago CTA monthly pass = $100 to go anywhere in Chicago, and surrounding suburbs. It's a steal. Use the resources at your disposal to your benefit.
5. Do your own hair - or ask a friend who can help.
When I had relaxed hair, I had a standing hair appointment every 6-8 weeks to retouch my already-damaged hair. Getting a relaxer & condition cost $75 each time. And even after relaxing my hair, I still did styles like braids and weaves that cost extra. I know I spent at least $1500/year. After cutting my hair several years ago and going natural, I do my best to do my own hair, and I have cut down the cost by half. I hope to cut it down further by finding a more affordable stylist for my protective styles.
Perspective: $750 adds up to a couple of roundtrip flights to the Caribbean in the off-peak season. $750 (or less) is also a flight deal to Bangkok.
6. Limit your Shopping.
I enjoy shopping, especially online. This was probably the biggest adjustment for me because I used to get something new every other weekend. However, I realized I was buying items I simply wanted, but didn't need. Learning to distinguish between what you want and need isn’t always a fun process, but it’s necessary if you’re serious about saving money. So, I stopped shopping as frequently and reserved splurges for specific occasions. Also, when you do shop, try to hold off until the big sale holidays to minimize your costs.
Perspective: You really don't need that top in maroon, blue, yellow AND white. It doesn't matter that they were only $12.99 each.
7. Cut Your Grocery Bill.
Stop buying mangoes and avocados in November, fam!
I know, I know, avocados are the bees knees. However, buying them will be twice, if not triple, the cost that they will be during the summer. Opt for seasonal vegetables and fruit, and splurge on more ‘exotic’ items occasionally. Trust me, you will be cutting your grocery bill by at least a third.
Perspective: With all that money you save, you'll be having those coconuts, mangoes and guavas you're craving at your next tropical vacation anyway!
8. Sell Old Clothes, Books, Electronics, etc.
Pick out your gently-used clothes that you wore maybe once or twice, and check out consignment stores in your neighborhood to see if they will buy them from you. If you are decluttering and want to get rid of old books, electronics and more, put them up on Ebay, Let Go or Facebook Marketplace. After college & graduate school, I sold a bunch of textbooks and novels, and made about $400. I just sold an old TV for $100 last week. Nothing like a little extra cash!
Perspective: Why hold on to that Biology text book, when you could use that hefty penny to upgrade your next flight?
By adjusting your spending habits, you'll be jetting off in no time!
In a future post, I will share my favorite money-saving apps. If you have additional suggestions, share them in the comments below. I welcome any extra tips!