As everyone we know is sick of hearing, next year my husband and I will set off on our “Big Trip”, an 8-month jaunt around the world.
When speaking to the few people left in the world who are just learning of this, the question we’re most frequently asked is some variation of this: “how in the hell are you going to afford it?”.
Some people tiptoe around the question (“so, are you just going to leave your jobs, or…?”), some ask directly, but those closest to us know the answer is simple: we’ve been voluntarily poor AF for the last year.
Saving money is never easy (and man have we had some tough weeks), but we have picked up some genuinely useful tips for saving, which have really worked for us.
So, whether you’re saving for a trip of your own, a new car or a fancy-schmancy wedding, come along with me as I share some of our biggest insights into the world of serious saving. None are particularly ingenious – in fact, for the most part, they’re glaringly obvious – but put together, they work.
Tip number one is a big one:
Set a weekly budget which works
Well, no shit, right? You want to save money and I’m telling you to set a budget? Genius. There are two key words here though.
First, weekly. Before we got serious about saving, we had a budget, and so do you, even if you don’t realise it: it’s called “how much you earn”.
However, what’s really important here is that we’re talking about a weekly budget, which is for everything that’s not a bill or monthly expense (rent, electricity etc), that you spend from week to week. So, this includes food, transport (unless you have a monthly bill), drinks, fun – everything.
Why is it so important that its weekly instead of monthly? Well, a few reasons, but mainly this: you are going to fuck up. There will be weeks when you just can’t help but spend more than you should (looking at you, Christmas). But if you have a weekly – and not monthly – budget, you can draw a line under it (and I mean this literally – more in another post), say “oops”, and move on.
When this happens in a monthly system, you’ll spend the remainder of the month trying to catch up (and usually failing, depending how big of a fuck-up we’re talking), and more importantly, feeling guilty. And what kills your saving motivation quicker than you can say “round-the-world-trip”? Guilt. If you’re feeling guilty, it will very quickly translate to “this is too hard, why am I bothering anyway?”, which is without a doubt the worst thing that can happen.
The other key phrase in this tip is that it has to be a budget which works; which is realistic. I get it: it’s a fine line between being unrealistic (and setting your budget so low that you’re doomed to failure before you start), and too high (which will be easy, sure, but the savings you’re left with at the end will leave you wondering if it was worth the effort).
And in all honesty, there isn’t a right answer: the exact amount which works will be different for everyone.
What’s important is to be flexible, at least in the beginning. By all means, set a low budget (you’d be surprised at how little you can live on if you’re saving for something great!) but be willing to up it a little bit if needed. The reverse is true too, of course: if you find you’re coming in way under budget every week (or more importantly, that you’re not saving as much as you’d like to), be tougher on yourself! But remember (and I really can’t stress this enough) if you’re making yourself completely miserable because you’ve set your budget too low, you will fail.
And that’s it: step one in my ridiculously obvious, but surprisingly effective money-saving tactics.
In the next of these “Travelling Without a Trust Fund” posts, I’ll talk more about getting rid of some unneeded luxuries – and which ones to keep!
In the meantime, if you’re just starting out on your money-saving journey, good luck! We can do this.
P.S. Let me know your best travel-saving tips in the comments below!