Let’s face it: one of the biggest problems that can impede us from following our goals (such as wandering around the globe) is a lack of funds. As a university student ready to enter grad school this coming September, the fear of not being able to travel for the next little while has me riddled with worry. I can’t imagine not being able to visit at least one new place a year, be it internationally or within my own beautiful country. However, with the right amount of planning and self-control, you’ll still be able to take those trips on a tight budget.
Here are four tips to maximize your travel:
1. Create a savings account.
This is going to be your go-to spot for depositing all of the money that you will be saving up for your trip. By creating a savings account, you’ve essentially created an account that’s “out of sight, out of mind”; when checking up on your regular chequing account that is used for your daily necessities, you will not be tempted to spend your travel money because it won’t be sitting there. When placed in an alternate account, you’ve protected yourself from “accidentally” dipping into that fund.
2. Stash a set amount (or percentage) of your paycheque aside each week specifically for travel.
Make it clear to yourself how much you will be setting aside for travel. Make it realistic — enough money to actually go on that trip within the year, but not too much where you’re unable to make ends meet. I would suggest 5-10% of your paycheque, or roughly $20 per week. The nice thing about working constantly in the summers (at least from my own opinion) is that you spend so much time at your job that there is minimal time to actually go out and spend your money. These times are especially easy to stash that travel fund aside.
If you want to up your game, you can. Remember the savings account I mentioned above? At some banks, you can sign up for a specific amount to be set aside every week, this way the savings happen automatically. There are also banks that round up your debit purchases; that is, if you purchase something that costs $1.25, the price will be rounded up to $2.00 and that difference of $0.75 will be deposited straight into your savings account.
3. Make wise investments.
Instead of investing in a new item of clothing you don’t really need, invest that money instead in something like bonds, gold or silver, and stocks. Bonds simply lock in your money for a set duration of time. Gold and silver are obviously best to purchase when the prices are low (times of economic stability) and sell when prices and demand for these elements rise (times of economic instability). As for stocks, there are both safe and risky stocks that you can invest your money into. Safe stocks are things such as water, hydro… things that will always be in demand. On the other hand, risky stocks are often up-and-coming businesses that can potentially lead to a large payout over time, as (hopefully) more and more investors put their money into the company. Because such an investment can be risky, try to keep your investment down to something you wouldn’t be too upset over losing. That being said, you should also thoroughly research the company you wish to invest in, not just blindly throw your money into businesses that you know absolutely nothing about. Ask yourself what they are currently going that will line them up for future success, what their long-term goals for the company are, and how they are planning on getting there.
By prioritizing what it is that you really want and holding out for a more rewarding sense of gratification, you will be able to save up the money you need for that long-awaited trip you’ve been planning. Investing is that long-term gratification that will leave you a little bit short on cash now, only to vastly increase over time.
4. Try to alternate national and international travel year to year.
Travelling within your own country can be much cheaper than travelling abroad (although when you do travel abroad, you can save money with local attraction passes, like the ParisPass); perhaps you can stay with family to save on hotel bookings, or within driving distance to save on airfare. There are so many places to see in the country that you reside in that have yet to be discovered. You can ask friends and family for suggestions of places to visit, scour social media, or check different travel blogs for ideas of more local destinations to make your way to. Any extra money that you will save on this trip, you can contribute to an international trip the following year. It also helps that people are less interested in souvenirs from somewhere in their own country, as opposed to somewhere far away.
Of course, this method of saving money can be used for any big purchase — a car, a house, a wedding. Saving your money is an important habit to get yourself into so that you are able to do and buy the things that you want without the stress of putting yourself into debt. Remember to sacrifice a little bit now for those long-term goals.
How do you save up money when times are tough? Let me know in the comments.