I often get asked how I can travel so much. As much as Id like to say I just go pick money off my money tree – I dont. I work hard, save lots and focus on my goals (traveling, duh!). So, how do I save? Where do I cut my corners? Im going to start by saying I am not preaching, I am not judging. This is just how I live my life.
First step. Choose my battles. Luckily I do not have a caffeine addiction, so that right off the bat saves me bundles. Many of my friends do, but knowing they like a good cup of coffee gives me the first starting point – you can afford $5/cup X amount of days a week/month. So, since you realistically can afford that cup of coffee, you can Digit. Digit is an app that automatically saved based on your spending habits. You securely log into your bank account through the Digit app and the fancy algorithms work their magic to figure out how much you can save and when. It is USUALLY less than a cup of coffee. That being said, some days you may have more money in your account and no bills coming up – so it may save more. You can choose specific goals – when you need the money by, what its for and how much you need to save. And you always have a rainy day savings as well. It never takes out when your budget is tight or your checking account is low. I have saved over $17,000 in the last three years using this account. Below you can see my recent activity in my rainy day account.
Ok, but what if you cant afford a cup of coffee? You can round up, snowball save or more! Qapital is an app that allows you to save in so many different ways! Again, you hook up to your checking account – but this app has a bit more control over how and when its saved. You can choose a “guilty pleasure.” Basically anytime you spend money at a certain place you then also save a certain amount of money. For me, my guilty pleasures are Target and Amazon. If I go spend money at either of those places I automatically save $10. When I indulge, I save. It doesnt matter how much I indulge – $100 or $5, I save $10. Another way I choose to save with Qapital is with the “round up” option. I choose the $2 round up, which means it rounds up to the even dollar amounts when I spend money. I spend $5.39 – I save $1.51.
If you have more fluidity with your income, my third way of savings is another super easy one, just requires a bit more cash availability. I set up a separate bank account online through Ally. By setting up an account not related to my daily bank, it gives me less visualization on it, allowing the money to kind of “stack up” without me noticing. I get paid weekly (one of the lucky few), so each week I have an automatic withdraw from my checking account into my Ally savings account. Each Thursday a set amount of money leaves my checking account and goes into that Ally account that I dont have a lot of visualization on. It adds up much more quickly when you dont see it – when you dont notice it. The automatic withdraw is money I dont even see – dont even know is gone. And when I log into Ally I see a lot more money that I ever realize I have saved.
Thinking about this last option, you could set up weekly withdraws for like $5 which would be $260 a year – may not seem like a much, but you are SAVING! And that is what is most important for your goals – EXPLORING THE WORLD!
One of the funnier ways I choose to save money is to save my singles. No, no dont get any weird ideas. When I have cash and get change, I sock away the singles. I put them in a jar and every once and a while take them to the bank and deposit them into a “Holiday Account.” If you arent familiar with the Holiday Account system – it is a savings account that you can deposit all year round, but you cannot remove money unless you close the account. On November 1st they transfer the money from your Holiday Account to the general savings account you have. Its a great way to save money without having an option to pull it out at other times. And savings singles is an easy way to stash away some cash that arent worth a whole lot on their own, but adds up pretty quickly. Clearly you dont have to use the money in this account for holidays, but they often bombard people and cut into savings for something else you may have wanted (TRIPS! TRAVEL!), so this type of account helps with that as well. I use the remainder of the Holiday Savings to kick off my savings for the following year’s trip.
The final way I stash cash is to save my “savings.” When I go to Target, the grocery store or anchor store (JCPenny, Kohls, etc) they always have a little spot on the bottom of the receipt that says how much money you spend. Target is usually where I do most of my shopping – and I try to save as much as I can when I shop – because I then transfer what I saved into my Holiday Account to bank roll that account even faster! Last year I saved over $385, just off my savings alone!! This may sound tedious, but since my goal is to figure out how I can get on more trips, quicker – this is a well worth the time investment for me.
The best way to save is to figure out what works for you, what your budget is, how much you can afford to save and the best way you see that. These are just a few of my dorky travel savings tips – but it allows me on average one getaway every 6-8 weeks and 2 large international trips a year.
What are some of your savings strategies? Feel free to share below – there are no bad ideas!