One of the things we hear the most is, “I want to travel, but I can’t afford it.” And while having money is necessary to be able to travel (and live), if you really want to travel, you can afford it. You don’t have to have to be rich to travel and you don’t have to wait until you’ve retired to get to experience the world. You can start traveling right now! Before we turned our passion for travel into our career, we were traveling to places like India, Tokyo, and Amsterdam all from being prioritizing how we spend our money and saving money specifically for travel. Saving money isn’t the easiest thing in the world (which is why a lot of people don’t do it), but it is possible, and if you do it, the reward of getting to go and experience the world is 100% worth it! Here’s a few principles and seven simple ways you can start saving right now so you can travel the world too!
You need to get rid of any preconceived notions that it’s not “in the cards” for you or “traveling is only for rich people” or that you’re going to have to wait until something in your life changes. Start by changing your mindset and getting rid of those ideas, because they’re not true. The first thing you need to do is to believe that you can travel right now at this time in your life and that you can afford it. And you can afford it, but you have to set your mind to it.
*We use the Mint app to create our budget and track our spending.
If you “want to travel more than anything,” then you need to reconsider how you’re spending your money. Do you really need to eat out three times a week? If you want to go to Paris one day, then why are you going to the movies every weekend or concerts every month or fancy coffee shops every morning? It’s not a matter of if you have enough money. It’s a matter of if you want to travel more than you want those other things. It’s a matter of making travel your priority.
When we got married, we promised to travel the world together, so we started cutting out activities that seemed fairly inexpensive, but added up overtime, like eating out a few times a week, going on date nights that cost money, buying new clothes, etc. Then we used that money that we saved from not spending on those things and that made it so we could afford to travel. You’ll be surprised by how much money you’ll start saving by cutting out unnecessary expenses you’ve prioritized over travel.
The first step is to look at your list of expenses and start mentally cutting things out. For example, tell yourself, “Instead of the $200 I spend on eating out a month, I’m going to spend $100 on eating out this month. And instead of spending $120 on a gym membership, I’m going to find a new gym for $40.” Then add up the total amount you’ve decided to cut out and write that number down (which would be $180 for this example), because you’re going to need that number for the next section.
You’re going to save that money before you spend it on anything. At the beginning of the month, you’re going to pay yourself that number you came up with in the last section. That’s right. You’re going to pay yourself before you pay a single bill. It’s scary at first, but it’s the only way you can guarantee you contribute toward your travel savings. If you wait until to end of the month to see how much is “left,” there’s a 99.99% chance that there won’t be any left. It’s really hard not to spend money when you know you have it, but if you’ve already put that money away in your savings account, you’ll adjust throughout the month and spend less.
When we started paying ourselves, we managed to pay ourselves 5% of our income, and sometimes I’d challenge myself and pay ourselves even 10 or 15%. By some miracle, our minds and habits adapt to the amount of money we have left after we pay ourselves. We never missed any bills, and we got more creative with how we had fun!
We also always want our money to be working for us, so we like using online savings accounts that pay high interest rates. We use Marcus: By Goldman Sachs, and it earns us 2.15% every year. We like Marcus because it has a $0 minimum balance requirement, so we’re never worried about fees. To put it in perspective, any interest rate number over 1.7% is huge! Most savings accounts from your standard bank will earn you 0.01% per year, which means you essentially lose money when inflation is taken into account. That’s why we suggest finding an online savings account with a much better interest rate. The only downside of an online savings account is that transfers take slightly longer, but we see that as a benefit, because it makes it harder to just pull out all the money you’ve saved and spend it.
Think about saving money as a marathon, not a sprint. Saving money takes time and commitment, so try not to become overwhelmed or discouraged when you’re getting started. A great way to remind yourself of your savings goal is to put a photo of the place you want to go as the background on your phone or hang up a photo of your bucket list destination in a place where you’ll see it every day. Being continually reminded of what you’re saving for will make it easier for you to actually do it.
If saving is hard for you, get an app like Dobot to help you save automatically.
Here are a few ideas on how you can start saving right now: