If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? Think about it for a minute. Close your eyes. Maybe you’ve always known your dream destination, or maybe you’re not sure. Maybe you dismiss your dream location as unreachable because of financial reasons. However, with some planning, it very likely doesn’t have to be.
Depending on whether your dream vacation is big or small, far away or closer to home, it may be quite expensive. If you start saving now, it may take some time, but you’ll be getting closer to making your dream a reality every day. To get you started on your way, here are ten ways to save.
Figure out the costs
First things first, figure out how much your dream vacation is going to cost. As you probably know, the cost of a vacation isn’t just the price of tickets and accommodations; you’ll need money while you’re there to see the sights, experience the food and culture, and money to keep in case of emergency. Add up how much you think your dream vacation will cost in total, remembering to account for food, travel, admission to events and locations, gifts, souvenirs, emergency cash and incidentals.
Additionally, if you don’t have paid vacation time, figure in the cost of taking time off of work for your journey.
Create and analyze your budget
You’re going to need a budget. A monthly budget is my preferred method, but some people may find it helpful to make weekly or quarterly budgets, as well. Make a document (using a spreadsheet can be helpful) listing your income and expenses for a given time period. Make sure to estimate on the high side for those one-time expenses that tend to come up. Don’t forget to list the money you spend on entertainment.
When you’re done listing income and expenses, add them both up to find your totals. Subtract your expenses from your income, and see how much money you have left over at the end of the month (or whatever time period you’re budgeting). Look at the cost of your dream vacation: how long will it take for you to save for it, assuming you’re able to save what you have left over this month every month?
Answering this question can give you an idea of how long you’ll have to wait to go on your dream journey at your current rate. Do you want to go sooner? You’ll have to make some adjustments.
Start a vacation savings account
If you’re saving for a sizeable and costly once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and it’s going to take some time, you may consider starting a vacation savings account at your bank or credit union. Deposit everything you are saving for your trip into this account, and don’t let yourself touch it for any other reason (unless it’s a real emergency, of course). You could even re-route part of your paycheck to go directly into this account, if this is something practical in your situation.
Start a treasure box
Find a shoebox and a safe place to put it. Paint your shoebox if you wish, or decorate it with photos of your dream destination. Whenever you have a spare one, five, ten or twenty dollar bill, toss it into the box. You can put your spare change in the box as well; it does add up over time. Or perhaps you could try a globe-shaped piggy bank? Whatever works for you!
Reduce your expenses
If you want to save money, find ways to reduce the non-critical expenses in your day to day life. The following are just a few ideas:
- Purchase secondhand clothes and furniture whenever practical.
- Make coffee at home instead of buying it at coffee shops.
- Limit the number of restaurants and other prepared food stops you frequent.
- Exercise at home instead of at the gym.
- Take shorter showers, and consider other ways to lower your water bill.
- Get energy-saving bulbs, and talk to your power company about ways to save on your energy bill. This can vary by community.
Cook in bulk
Cooking in bulk at home is a great way to save both time and money. Start by purchasing fresh, healthy, inexpensive ingredients, then follow these tips. If you get in the habit of this, you’ll be glad you did.
Walk or bike instead of driving
Do this whenever you can. It’s a great way to get your daily exercise, and it saves you money on gas. Especially in the warm months, you’ll be amazed at how great you feel when you take a walk or bike ride outside every day.
Have a yard sale
Go through your closets, garage, yard and storage areas, then get rid of any unwanted clutter. If you have a lot of useful but unneeded items at the end of your decluttering, consider having a yard sale. It’s a good way to get a few extra dollars into your treasure box.
Take on a freelance project
If you’d like to make some extra money and the cutting of expenses isn’t cutting it, consider taking on a freelance project in your spare time. Who knows, you may enjoy this type of work and want to continue doing it. Freelancing has a lot of benefits.
Reassess your budget each month
Every month, see how much you saved. Look at how your actual one-time costs compared to your estimated costs. Identify areas to improve. Calculate how much time it will take to reach your dream trip. Improve your rate. Feel the time getting closer. Keep your eye on the journey ahead. You’ll be on your way in no time.
— Tanya Mead