So you want to know how to save money to travel? Saving money while living in a big city and working full time is hard. My boyfriend, Tom, and I lived in Boston, MA, one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. We both worked long hours and lived in a one bedroom apartment that cost over $2,000 a month plus an additional $75 for parking. We both had cars and student loan payments.
Still, we managed to save over $30,000 in less than a year of saving and only about 5 months of intense budgeting. Most of these types of posts you will read will give advice such as get a second job, sell your car, move in with your parents, etc. None of these were an option for us. Instead, we made some small changes and set goals to aggressively save.
Here are some of our tips for saving:
Set an intention
The first step is to sit down and crunch the numbers. I’m an accountant so spreadsheets are in my blood but it truly does help so much having everything on paper. First, start with how much you need to save and your time limit.
Then work backwards from there, building a monthly budget to see if your savings goal is possible. If you realize it’s not do-able, you either need to give yourself more time or cut more expenses. As simple as that!
Being intentional with your money is crucial. You need to be cognizant of every dollar that goes out the door. A dollar for a coke at a vending machine from work? Do you really need that? If the answer is no, good choice. By skipping that coke, you just bought yourself another beer from a bar in Colombia!
Cook every meal in
Like most millennials, eating out was my biggest expense each month. I loved trying out new bars and restaurants with my friends every weekend. I also enjoyed going to food trucks with my co-workers for lunch at work and spending around $10 each time. As much as I enjoyed those things, I knew they weren’t bringing my life as much meaning as travel.
Therefore, Tom and I instantly realized that we needed to completely quarantine ourselves from going out to eat and/or drink. We reserved the one-per-month night out for special occasions. And guess what? Those times became even more special and memorable!
By cooking every meal in, I estimate that we saved over $400 per month. That’s a month of an AirBNB in Budapest!
Shop at inexpensive grocery stores and meal plan
Before our serious budgeting, we would just mindlessly go to whichever grocery store was the most convenient at the time. Being intentional with our money, we realized that there is a cheaper way to grocery shop. We started shopping exclusively at Aldi for the majority of our groceries. We tended to find that they had the best prices for staples such as eggs, produce, canned goods, etc.
We are also obsessed with cheese and craft beer so we would go to Trader Joes for most of those splurge purchases. We also would look at the sales flyers at Stop and Shop (our local supermarket). We often bought our meat there based upon whatever was on sale.
On Sundays, we would write up a meal plan for the week. We typically made large dinners and took them for lunches the next day. We also got deli meat and bread in case there were no leftovers to take.
Typically, we planned out 5 dinners each week. We found that the cheapest meals were soups because they tended to just need a lot of canned ingredients and some spices to be delicious. They also are great because you can make a lot and freeze any extra.
Stop buying expensive personal hygiene and makeup products
I used to buy all of the expensive hair products, body products, and lotions and creams too until I realized that it was such a sham. Marketing departments make certain expensive brands seem like such miracle products and they really aren’t!
I went back to my roots and started using Dove bar soap and Suave shampoo and conditioner. I stopped buying expensive makeup at Sephora or Ulta and went to drug stores instead. More is less when it comes to beauty ladies!
Also, keep in mind that you don’t want to travel the world with a 20 pound cosmetics bag so start pairing down now!
Find a buddy
I can’t imagine doing this without someone else to vent to about how much I wanted Starbucks or a nice dinner out at our favorite Italian restaurant. Having a buddy is so crucial to keep you on track. And it doesn’t have to be your boyfriend or husband. Find a friend at work that’s also trying to save money for a goal (buying a house, paying off loans, etc).
If all else fails, read personal finance blogs or start following travel bloggers for inspiration. Always keep in mind that the payoff is going to be so worth the small sacrifices!
I hope that you found this helpful for your savings goals! If you have any questions or comments please let us know and we would love to chat.