Want you save money for travel of your life? Or maybe just wanna to spare a little bit to afford vacations in more expensive destination this year? You’re in the right place because in this post I am going to show you how I saved 3000€ in 8 months.
I chose the Caribbean for my first nomadic destination. Since moving to Guadeloupe and Martinique as a European Union citizen was very easy, I thought that might be a good idea. Unfortunately, French Antilles are not the cheapest paradise islands, so I needed to make some research first and estimate how much I would need to spend on flight tickets, accommodation, food, and so on. It took a while, but after this, I could prepare my savings plan. I decided to save at least 2500€, but at the end, I saved around 3000€.
In this post I share with you some of my best hacks to save the money for travel. At the end of reading you should also be able to plan your saving routine.
Would you like to know how much did I spend in total for two months in the Caribbean?
Read the post about the costs of living in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
How to save money for travel?
Before that I started to treat saving seriously, I was living a comfortable life in Tri-City in North Poland (a region of three cities: Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Sopot). I could afford to rent a flat in the city center, often eat in the city, buy new stuff and occasional travel. I was earning a little bit more than the national average which on that time was around 3400 Polish złoty, so about 790€. Which is actually not much comparing to average European salary. But that was sufficient to have a nice life in this region.
But usually, I was spending all of my money during the current month. And to be honest, I was not saving anything.
Saving turning point
But the dream of living in the Caribbean for around two months changed my lifestyle. To achieve it I estimated that I needed to save at least 2500€. That seemed to be a huge amount of money that time, but luckily I found a great knowledge source on the Internet.
I started to read a blog by Michał Szafrański, a finance blogger, which is one of the most popular celebrities in the Polish Internet. And thanks to his great book “Financial Ninja” I was actually able to save even 3000€. And even without any big sacrifices!
So I did it. I saved around 3000€ in 8 months. And now you can do it too! Below I will show you my hacks that I used to achieve this goal, so you can do the same. And don’t worry! If you will do it wisely, you won’t even feel a big difference in your everyday life. Me, for instance, I was still traveling short-time, while saving money for a big trip. I would save much more if I would not go to Malta, Tenerife, Montenegro, and Masuria during those months. So it’s all up to you!
1. Track your spendings
This is first, the most important step to take. If you do not know how much do you spend on different things, then you will not know where you can find savings (because they are there, waiting for you to discover them!). Tracking your spending will let you to take the real control of your money. And this is not so scary as you might think.
To track your spending in the right way, it will not be sufficient if you would say “ok, so today I spent 5€ for food” without checking your receipts. Are you sure? Did you count this take-away donut on your way to work? Or a juice can you bought for lunch? Or this ice-cream in the mall, while doing grocery? And actually, do you know how much you spend on groceries themselves?
To make your tracking efficient you need to count every little penny. To make it easy and fast, I use a mobile app – Money Lover. In just a few clicks I can add my daily expenses and control them with automatic charts. If I buy small things, like a bus ticket, or a sandwich, I usually add those expenses right away, which takes me around 5 seconds. Then I can simply forget about. If I do some bigger shopping, then I collect the receipts in my wallet and add them to the app at home.
2. Prioritize your needs
In this step, you need to be honest with yourself. You need to set your finance priorities so you can plan your monthly expenses. Obviously, the most important will be your bills, like rent. The second one will be of course groceries shopping. The third one will be paying your debts.
You heard it right, getting rid of all of your debts is a huge step before starting to save money for travel. If you will have all of these paid, you can assign your next draft for savings. This move should be placed high on your financial priorities list to be efficient.
3. Manage your budget
This one is a game changer. If you will properly set your annual and monthly home budget, you will be able to find your savings. Your expenses data that you collect will be a base to creating your own budget spreadsheet.
In your budget you should include all of your expenses. My main regular categories are for example:
- Accommodation: rent, electricity, and gas
- Households (like cleaners)
- Food: at home, in the city
- Car: maintenance, petrol
- Hygiene: medicaments, cosmetics
- Education: language course
- Entertainment + Relax (yes, you should plan a small amount for this too – to not go crazy about saving)
- Cat: food + maintenance
- Irregular Expenses Fund
- Health Fund
- One-off Expenses
What do mean three last ones?
Irregular Expenses Fund is a great idea that I took from the “Financial Ninja” book. At the beginning of the year, you should list all of your irregular spending (like car insurance, cat’s birthday, water bill which comes once per few months). Every cost that you can predict. Sum up all of them and divide into 10. The result is an amount that you should save each month to be sure that you will have that money if there will come the right time to make a payment.
Since health condition is something unpredictable, I created my own Health Fund, that each month I save a small amount of money. I could use it for unexpected dentist need or unplanned doctor visit.
The last category is One-off Expenses. At the beginning of each month, I think about unplanned costs that I could have in that month. Like new shoes. Or a party invitation, that I’ll need to buy a gift for a host. Or a new book that I would like to purchase. These are unexpected costs but note that they are not impulsive buying, but considered ideas.
Where are true savings?
Above I listed the main categories of the home budget. This is the minimum that you need in your life. In this way, all the rest that you earn, you can actually save. In my spreadsheet, I have a separate column for different funds, like the Emergency Fund, Financial Airbag, Travel Fund, House Renovation Fund. Managing my budget this way helped me to save money for travel (and not only) really fast and in a way that I didn’t feel any stress about it or regret.
4. Develop saving habits
In order to keep your saving process efficient, you should work on your habits. The basic one is, of course, tracking spending, but I also worked some that suit me the best and that speed up my savings collecting in a most productive way.
My first rule is to make a money transfer for my saving funds right away after receiving a salary. With the home budget prepared each month, I know how much money I can save from it. I never wait with it to the end of the month, because then money has this silly tendency to spread in the air. So remember this: you’re getting money – you immediately make a money transfer to the savings account.
Second rule: create a separate saving account in your bank. Ideally, if it would have a percent and give you some interest. But the best idea is to have it somewhere you cannot see it every day, so for example in another bank. Thanks to this, it will not tempt you to reach for this money. And after a while, you will be surprised how this account had grown.
5. Reduce impulsive buying to save money for travel
Impulsive buying is the most common reason why money run away from us. To stop it, you must have a strong consciousness during shopping. Before putting a product to your basket think about a real reason why you wanna to buy it. Maybe, in fact, you really don’t need it?
Let’s take a look on a few examples:
- paper magazine: are you sure you are gonna to read it? In my case, most of my magazines finished in the garbage without even being OPENED. I bought them impulsively and never read, because I had more interesting things to do.
- candy bar: hey, didn’t you promised to yourself to eat healthier? Put it down!
- “It’s so cute! My mom/dad/sister/boyfriend will love it!”: again, are you sure? Personally, I do not like anymore while someone gives me a gift, which is well… bought just because it’s cute or lovely. Think about it: how many unused stuff you have in your own home, because someone gave it to you, and even if you like it, you don’t use it? But of course, you cannot simply throw it away, because it was a gift. That may be controversial, but I think that good words are really better than the useless gift.
- buying more “just in case”: I used to do it, while buying food. To be honest, usually, this surplus landed in the garbage which was neither economical, neither responsible.
How you can reduce impulsive buying?
So what’s the best way to cut on impulsive buying? Start to create shopping lists. Each time you go to the store, prepare a list before. Check out your dinner recipe and write down everything that you will need. It’s super simple, works and saves money and time. In the shop you will exactly know where to go and what to put in a basket, so the whole process will be much faster. Without a shopping list, you will unnecessarily buy half of a store.
6. Make some home clearing
Turn your house upside down and browse all your stuff. Be honest to yourself if you use everything that your shelves hide. This method will give you some mental benefits. Clearing your house from all unnecessary items will make you feel much lighter and motivated and it can lead you to the next step.
7. Sell your stuff
This is a natural continuation of the previous step. Check out if you have got something in your home that you do not use anymore. But maybe it still has some value? Like old clothes? Maybe some electronic equipment? Or a fancy furry cat castle that your cat did not appreciate?
Sell it away! You might be surprised to collect some money after doing so. And if no one would like to buy it, give it even for free or ask among your friends or family if they don’t want to take over your unused stuff.
Even if you will not earn anything on it, you will make some place in your home and in your mind. Getting rid of useless items from your life will help you leave the carousel of consumerism.
8. Cook at home
If you often eat outside your home, you shouldn’t be surprised that it’s hard to save money for travel. Sure, going outside from time to time is great. But if your day looks like this: take-away coffee in the morning, lunch in the office building bar, and dinner in a restaurant in the city, then saving might be difficult. If you will start to track your expenses, you will know why.
The solution is of course simple: take the effort and prepare your meals at home. This can not only help you save money for travel but become healthier. You will be sure that you eat well and you will gain control over the quality of your meals’ ingredients.
9. Meet friends at home
This step is obviously connected with the previous one. Instead of hanging around with your friends in the city, invite them to your own house. Wanna have some gossips over coffee with your friends? Stay at home! You will have more privacy than in a café and more coffee for a smaller price.
Instead of going to a bar, ask your friends to spend some time in your flat. Let everyone bring their favorite beer and some biscuits. You could talk, laugh, play board games, spend some nice time together and save money.
If your friends will ask you why you prefer to stay at home, simply tell them about your goal. Maybe you will even inspire them to save money for travel too?
10. Switch to zero waste lifestyle
I dream about the sustainable life for all of us. So I try to live zero waste (or at least less waste). And since I started I was surprised by the impact that this change had on my finances.
The biggest savings that I gained was on cosmetics. Since I reduced the amount of the stuff I used each day, like separate washing medium for each part of a body, three different body lotions, hairsprays, makeup accessories or even menstrual single-use items (now I use a menstrual cup, which is perfect!), I noticed a huge change in my budget. And I also feel much better!
The second big thing was cutting expenses on food. And I don’t mean actually saving on food. I simply reduced the amount of heavily processed and junk food, often covered with plastic. Instead, I buy more vegetables and fruits, which are not wrapped in plastic, and prepare healthier meals at home instead of buying ready-to-eat, unhealthy and packaged food. It is good for my health, the environment,
11. Cut-off unused memberships
Sometimes you can lose lots of money with barely noticing it. Check out your bank account. Maybe there are some monthly expenses that you forget about but which are automated?
Maybe you subscribed for a digital library to read a lot, as you always wished? And now tell me, how many e-books did you actually read last months?
And what about your gym membership? Do you really work out so often? If it’s only once or twice per week, maybe you can do it on your own?
Instead of paying a monthly fee for not using the application or membership it is better to transfer this money to the saving account and go to the neighbor book library or play some free Youtube workouts and exercise at home. Lots of money saved!
12. Lower accommodation costs
Now let’s take a look on your accommodation costs.
Before I seriously started to save money for travel, I used to rent a two-room apartment almost in the city center. But when I decided to quit a job and travel more, my flat space was the first thing that I changed into money.
By finding a flatmate I was able to save a lot of money. And that was not the only advantage. I used to work a lot that time, so I didn’t go outside too much. And to be honest, my cat didn’t want to talk to me all the time. So sharing an apartment with a friend was a great thing, cause besides the money I also get some nice company!
But there is also more possibilities for saving money in your own apartment. Let’s take electricity: do you switch on the light, when you’re not in the room? Do you leave your computer plugged in with a working charger for the whole night? Do you leave your electronic devices in a stand by mode? Or maybe you still buy the traditional light bulbs instead of LED? Well, all of these things have an impact on your electricity bills. You might think it’s small, but if you sum it up, the amount that you actually pay annually can be huge.
13. Save on transport
When I was working a
While starting to save money, I started also to use my car less often. I was also most often choosing walking back home instead of taking the bus while being in the city. It usually took me only a few minutes more, but I had some free exercises and some money saved.
14. Buy second-hand items
If you really need to buy some new clothes, consider visiting a second-hand. It was my boyfriend who learned me how to rummage in thrift stores. I was amazed how great stuff I could find there!
Linen dress for 3€. Merino wool sweater for 4€. Silk blouse for 2€. Really, if you will take your time, you will find wonderful things in great prices. Some of them even brand new, still with original labels. Cloths of this quality you will not find in any common chain store (where you will find only crappy, yet expensive plastics).
15. Grab opportunities
Sometimes, if you will look for it well, you may find some money opportunities on your way, that could be add-ons to your main income source.
Me, from time to time, I was doing some small 3D modeling & visualization works, since I had this skill. It happened only from time to time, but if I get paid for those works, I treated them as an extra add-on, and transfer it to my saving account.
So think if there is some kind of work that you can occasionally do and treat it like an additional source of money which you can include into your main goal to save money for travel.
Resources to help you save money for travel
Here is a short list of the resources that helped me reach my goal and save money for travel. Use them to copy this achievement.
Money Lover – a great app to help you track your spending. It lets you create multiple wallets in different currencies, assign expenses to your own categories and summarize everything for you so you can analyze your progress. And it’s for free!
Financial Ninja – one of the best book about personal finances, saving and managing the home budget. It was written in an affordable and easily understandable way. Unfortunately, now it is available only in Polish.
The 4-hour Work Week – this book helped me clarify my dream about being location independent. This was the main reason why I started to save money for travel so intensely.
The last advice to save money for travel
The most important thing to remember: if you want to save money for travel, you need to be persistent. Saving money for travel takes time, especially if you need a big amount as I did. But if you will keep to your saving schedule and follow above rules, you will achieve your goal.
And why you should start to save money for travel today? Because the time will go by no matter what you do.
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Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. That means that if you click on them or make any purchase via them, I receive a small commission. But don’t worry, this will not cost you anything and in a few cases, you can even receive a special discount! And I will still be able to chase my dreams. So thank you!
Dominika is a founder of Sunday In Wonderland and she recently switched her life to be local independent. She aims to travel the world and admire all of its wonders. She is much focused on sustainable life, self-development and making this world a better place.