“But Andrew, you just went to Japan for 3 weeks in July, NYC a month before that, a long-weekend winter encore in Montreal and another 10 days in Tokyo…how the hell do you afford all of this?”
I get this from friends and family more than you think. It is no secret that I am a part-time retail worker and a full-time student – this should be virtually impossible, right?
Just like you, I have that travel bug that lingers on my shoulder and audibly nibbles at me day in and day out. The fact is, it is easier to squish that bug than you think.
Step 1: Stop Thinking You’re Broke
You are not broke — you just have really bad spending habits. Don’t feel bad, I was there too and to this day I still struggle with everyday mundane expenses.
Step 2: Make Travel A Priority
One of my closest buddies said to me, “Man, I’m so jealous that you are planning all of these cool trips every year. I wish I could do that!” The next day he was showing me his brand new iPhone X he just bought. See the irony there? Everybody says they want to travel, the problem is, they don’t make it a priority. This has to change. If you REALLY want to see the world and you mean it, it’s time to accept that the shoddy phone you have is good enough, your current kicks are still kicking and you can definitely wait for Champagnepapi’s next tour.
When I shifted my mentality to make travelling my number one focus, my spending habits naturally changed (more on that later.) You have to really want it above other things — above the partying, delicious $5 lattes and above all, the constant eating out. I know it’ll be hard to change all of that just by reading a random blog post — hell, I’m guilty of wanting to see every new movie that comes out in theatre (sometimes twice) and having a nice dinner beforehand — but this next step should ease you into saving in a more natural way.
Step 3: Set Automatic Payments To Savings Account
Let’s say you work part-time and bring in minimum $650 a paycheck bi-weekly. It’s easy to burn through that before the next pay arrives. In order to guarantee you have savings, set up an auto payment to a saving account that is hard to touch. You can either do this by yourself online, over the phone or by talking to a representative at your bank. I like to use a TFSA, as it costs nothing when you want to withdraw and there is a 24-hour waiting period before you can take out your money. Let your financial advisor help you to find the best savings option to fit your needs.
When it is all set-up, make sure the auto-withdraw is set to the same day you get paid.
Ta-da…you now have a travel fund!
The great thing about this is after a few months you get used to this amount being taken out to the point that It feels like a natural expense. Before you know it, you won’t even notice the money being transferred twice a month. Not only that, but you won’t have a strong urge to withdraw it when you see something you want to buy at the mall. I recommend transferring a minimum of 20% of your pay — but if you can, do more!
Say you transfer 20% of $650 twice a month — that is $130 a paycheck and $260 a month. In one year, you already have $3120!
That is more than enough for either one major international trip, one smaller international trip and one domestic trip or 3-4 separate domestic trips a year.
Step 4: Make A Weekly Budget
20% may seem like a lot of your bi-weekly pay, but in reality, it only takes a little budgeting to make the other 80% work for you. If you are not already budgeting, now is the time to start!
One thing to keep in mind is never budget monthly (unless you get paid monthly.) It is easier to keep track of your money when you budget in accordance with your pay period.
So, $130 a paycheck goes straight to your savings on payday, that leaves you with $520 for the next two weeks. Let’s break that down into a reasonable budget (for a part-time worker in full-time studies.)
- $250 for rent or household contribution
- $60 for credit balances
- $50 for groceries
- $75 for transportation
- $60 for entertainment
- $25 for emergency savings
Now this resembles my specific budget while living at home and going to school. Yours could differ in many ways in comparison to mine. For example, you may not have to contribute to your household per say, but you are paying back student loans instead. You may not hold a credit card balance but have higher transportation expenses. All of these sums can be shifted around for your personal lifestyle. One thing to keep in mind is that cutting back in each area will be the most important thing in making sure you are living within your means and saving enough to travel.
You may be making more than $650 bi-weekly or you may simply be working full-time and living on your own. Either way, scale your budget to match your minimum needs and save the rest. Not only for travel. but for future finances as well (i.e. emergencies, education, car, house, marriage, retirement, etc.)
Step 5: Work More, Play Less
For those who think their income doesn’t match their needs…the simple solution is to focus more on work and less on leisure. We tend to say that we have too much on our plate to work more hours, but this is just not the case. We spend so much time on our phones, computers, gaming, clubbing, drinking, etc., that we are taking away from ample opportunity to work more hours.
This also includes online shopping. It is so easy to burn through money in the online shopping age. Websites have made it easier to spend with social advertising, 1-click checkouts and weekly sales. Stick to physical stores and watch your bank account increase. Remember, just because something is on sale, it doesn’t mean you should buy it!
Entertainment should be balanced with work and unfortunately, it often overshadows it.
My overall mentality is that each hour of the day is worth at least $14 (minimum wage in Ontario.) Is what you’re doing at this very moment worth (a minimum of) $14?
Step 6: Get A Side Gig
For some, there may not be opportunities to spend extra hours at work as company payroll may be limited. The easiest solution is to get another job or a find a “side hustle”. There are always ways to earn extra money on the side. Whether you are tutoring a few hours every week, re-selling imported goods or helping a local business, these are all ways to add a couple extra dollars to your savings or to indulge in some of your spending habits. If you still think you are strapped for time and can’t focus on a side job, find a job that rewards you for sales. Most retail jobs have a commission system that pays out a percentage on all sales — on top of your base pay, that is. In addition, you could switch to waiting tables which can stuff your pocket full of tip money. There are so many creative ways to earn money. The trick is getting started and sticking with it.
Step 7: Plan Your Trip
It’s been a year since you started saving and now you have a minimum of $3100 saved. Good for you! The next step is to plan your trip and do so wisely. Here a are numerous trip planning tips that will help you get the most out of your dollar:
- If there are no particular destinations you have in mind, search for the best flight deals and save more money on your flight cost (I like to use YYZ Deals, Next Departure and Flytrippers.) Who knows, your dream destination may be the next cheap deal!
- Travel with someone to greatly decrease travel costs (especially on accommodation and food.)
- Travel during the off-season. With a small Google search, you can figure out which months are low-season for tourism in the country of your choice. Low-season tends to come with cheaper flights, accommodation, attractions and food.
- Book a hostel or guesthouse instead of a hotel, they are safe, clean and will save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars during your stay. I recommend Booking.com for all accommodation bookings. Save $25 CAD on your next booking (equal to one or two nights in most hostels) when you click this link to sign-up for booking.com. Booking.com lets you book first and pay at the property with free cancellations. This allows you to be flexible with your plans and book well in advance but not stay married to an accommodation choice.
- Purchase your flight as soon as you have saved enough money to do so. Once you’ve booked your flight, your trip is locked in and it will motivate you to save more before your departure date. I like to pay as I go when saving up for trips as opposed to waiting to have the full sum and then buy everything. This allows me to monitor prices and make purchases when I find deals.
- You may have a dream destination, but other destinations may prove to be just as exciting and will give you more bang for your buck. For example, instead of travelling to Western Europe (London, Paris, Berlin, etc.) try out Eastern Europe (Belgrade, Budapest, Sofia.) You’ll still get the European vibe, but it will let you double your trip time or allow for more spending when you arrive.
- Don’t budget too much for food. Especially when you are in a hostel, you have the option to buy groceries and cook. This will save you exponentially and can increase the duration of your trip or allow for more excursions.
- Always research free things to do before you go on any trip. All cities have them and they can give you the same, if not better experiences than the overpriced and overcrowded attractions.
- Don’t be afraid to travel domestically. An adventure is still an adventure no matter where you go. More than likely, your country of origin will have plenty to see and do. It is the perfect chance to truly explore your heritage while boosting tourism at home.
…TRAVEL, SAVE, REPEAT!
Thank you for reading and don’t forget to hit those Instagram and Facebook icons in the top right corner for real-time updates on travel, savings and much more!