So how do we budget for big trips that can cost us around $10,000? Soon you will see. My goal is to help guide people in similar situations to achieve their big travel dreams the way we have been able to fulfill ours. Do not let money discourage you. The way I see it is if we – a 25 and 26 years old with A LOT of student loans, car payments, rent, etc. can do it, then so can you!
Everyone’s situation is different, but my guide is to help give you an idea of how you can use my strategy to help fulfill your travel goals. As stated we are still young, no children, recently married and we want to see the world before we start settling down. With that being said, this guide can also be used for something outside of travel, like buying a new car or house. Use this guide to help you achieve your next goal.
First of all, I budget our life on an excel sheet. I manage, control and break down our finances on one excel document. Next, you must set a goal. What do you want to achieve and how quickly? For example, we booked our honeymoon in December and were going on the trip next September so we set ourselves a goal of how much we wanted to save in 9 months. Lastly, stick with it! You are making a commitment to yourself to achieve your goals. Do not let pressure, discouragement, doubt, anything, get in your way because when you reach your goal and you’re on the trip you’ve been saving up for, the trip is not only amazing, but it is rewarding!
How I Budget
I take Adam’s and I’s four paychecks that we would get over the course of four weeks, or one month. The first thing I will do is deduct every monthly payment – rent, car payment, loan payments, electricity, insurance, internet, cell phone plan, personal trainer, emergency savings plan, etc. At this point I evaluate our goal and what we can accomplish with the remaining monthly balance. In our case we save around 22% of our monthly income. You choose how much you want to save based on your income and your goals. Once you figure out the amount you can and want to save, deduct that amount from your remaining balance. Now this is your actual balance to live on for the remaining month and you live by it. Every week see how much money you have spent and keep track of your spending. Make sure you are aware of how much you are spending every week and how much money you have left in your balance.
Another thing I do is plan or think ahead. I never like spending large amounts of money on one monthly income, like flights or anything more than $300. For example, we are at the end of the month and still have $550 in our spending money, I see there is a hockey game next month so I will buy the tickets now when we can afford it. If we had less than $200 to spend for the remaining of the month then I would do my best to be a penny pincher and use the leftover money to help pay for the tickets the next month. That way theoretically, one ticket could have come from last month’s paycheck and another ticket come from the current month. Another example is traveling home to see family. Usually we know a few months ahead of time when we will purchase flight tickets that could cost around $600 total. So what I like to do is deduct $200 from our monthly income after I deduct our savings. After three months of automatically saving $200 we can easily spend $600 in one month without hurting our monthly income balance.
My three big rules for money…
- Just because you want it doesn’t mean you NEED it (within reason). Do I want to buy Adam a pair of nice Rayban sunglasses? YES! Does he really need them? Well kind of, he needs some sunglasses to protect his eye, but he doesn’t need the $200 pair of sunglasses. So I buy the sunglasses on sale for less than $100 (this is my within reason because let’s face it, the sunglasses look good on him and he does need a pair). Or take my phone for instance, it is cracked and some glass is coming out of my phone. That is pretty dangerous, so do I need a new phone? Yes, but I won’t buy it this month, because this month we cannot afford one and I want the iPhone 7 (again within reason because this phone is waterproof and I really want and can benefit from the newest phone). So I will save what I can this month and make sure to be able to afford it next month.
- When you receive extra money (gift money, bonus checks, tax refund, etc) do not spend it. SAVE it. I use tax refunds as an emergency go to so that I do not actually go into our real emergency savings account. For example, our wedding and honeymoon… we were absent from work for around 12 days and did not have any vacation pay because we just moved jobs. So after spending a lot of money for our wedding and honeymoon we were not receiving one paycheck each. That was half our monthly income. So I dipped into our tax refund with only what we needed to make it through the month which still left us with money from our tax refund. After that tax refund, one more tax refund and Adam’s bonus check we were able to pay off his student loans right before we left for a three month vacation.
- Save for tomorrow, but still LIVE for today. Life is short, too short. It is great to save for the future, and for big travel trips but you cannot get caught up in saving so much for tomorrow that you forget to live in the present. This does not mean forget rule #1. This means that it is okay to go on a road trip and hike Zion National Park or go out for dinner and drink with your friends. It does not mean to go out and buy $500 worth of clothes, games, or going out every weekend. No, because you do not NEED that, but you do need to enjoy the life you have because anything can happen tomorrow and then you will never get to go on the trip you’ve been planning for three years. Shit happens. Sorry for the language, but it does and everyone just needs to find their right balance.
If you have some budget friendly tips, I would love to hear them! There is always something new to learn or ways to improve. If you have any questions or need help budgeting for your own trip feel free to contact me! I hope my budget guide helps you achieve your travel dreams!