If you ask me what my most talked about subject was, it would probably be how money is stressing me out. I am my father’s daughter, and I’m a money worrier for sure. It’s not difficult to see why with how much tuition and general living expenses in Philadelphia are. But it would be nice to not worry about it so often!
One thing that’s made my worry a lot better recently is having a travel budget. I’ve had a budget before, but I was just saving for the all-elusive “someday” when I would need a big chunk of change. As with most things in life, having an end goal is super helpful. And if I want to enjoy all of these travel plans brewing in my brain, whether they’re near or far, I’m gonna need some moolah to get it done.
The question then came up of how to actually get money in there. There are many travel budgeting posts out there (this one from Kate was one I found to be very realistic!), but not all of them applied to me! Many, many, many of them mentioned selling possessions on eBay or selling your car. But what if you don’t have nice things to sell to cushion your savings fund in the first place?
I’m going to share some things that I’m doing to try to save money. I’m not going to break it down by specific expenses (yet!), because technically I don’t know if I’ve been successful or not yet! Keep in mind, I don’t have kids or anything. I also rent an apartment and don’t own. I don’t have a car. Etc. Etc. I’m already budgeting. 😉
Break it down. The first thing you have to do is to actually get a handle on where your spending is going. Excel spreadsheets are my boyfriend’s favorite things in the whole world, but they don’t really do it for me. I use Mint.com and all of their apps to keep track of what my money is going to and then adjust a monthly budget off of that.
Perfect the art of income. I totally TOTALLY understand that the job market sucks. I worked a very minimum wage job serving various forms of frozen treats for a few years. Sometimes, the income just isn’t as great as you want it to be! If you want something badly enough, you’ve got to take something out there. I’m lucky now to have a job that I love that gets me by! But it wasn’t enough. I got chosen for a peer teaching job at school that will give me a little extra dough. I recently
begged asked Kristen how to jump into the art of freelancing. Sometimes, you have to be overworked get creative.
Manage those paychecks. I pay for rent/utilities by taking half out of two separate paychecks. I pay off my credit card balance (hello groceries) or any loan payments as well. Then I move it ALL into my travel fund, saving $300 for emergencies (that I’m considering moving back down) in my checking account. If I don’t think I have it, I don’t spend it. Boom.
Don’t pay for something you can do yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard, “Don’t eat out. EVER!” Well…been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I am a huge fitness junkie. I refuse to pay for a gym when I can get creative and workout at home or at school/work. I run because it’s fairly cheap (and I like it, yada yada yada)! Sometimes I splurge on races, but I’m trying to cut that down. I’m also a book lover. Goodbye Barnes & Noble and helloooo Public Library.
I don’t even buy books for school anymore. Even this blog is an example. Sure, I’d love to be self hosted and have a designer do all of my work for me. But I’m sure trying my hardest to get it done myself so it’s cheaper!
Don’t ever shop at Whole Foods. Seriously, though. It’s the closest grocery store to my house, but I refuse to do my shopping there anymore. I’ve got a friend at work who orders all of her bulk stuff off of Target’s website and/or Amazon and she saves a TON! Highly considering that! I also buy my produce locally, which really helps me out.
Look for discounts. I don’t care if you aren’t a student anymore. If you’ve got a student ID that looks vaguely like you with no expiration date, USE THAT SUCKER. Coupons/special promotion codes are also a big help. Just make sure the place you shop accepts them (see above)!
Wait to buy big travel items. I’m not talking about airline tickets or anything, because I am NOT well versed in that yet. But I’m talking about a camera, a backpack, clothes, etc. Black Friday and huge ginormous end-of-season sales will be around eventually, right? Be a smarter shopper!
Lastly, a word of advice from my parents when I showed them my new “don’t spend anything” budget. Don’t get crazy. Don’t spend so much time and effort saving for a trip (or anything, for that matter!) that you lose sight of what you’re doing today. Many people travel to enjoy life. It’s a heck of a lot easier to enjoy life when you allow yourself to enjoy life where you are right now, too. And sometimes, that just takes money to happen. Allow it, embrace it, and don’t feel guilty.
Share your favorite budgeting tips! Have you seen any great posts about budgeting? Isn’t money fun? 😉