I recently returned from a trip to Greece. What an experience.
While I loved the beautiful weather, incredible sites, and fantastic local cuisine, what made me real happy was that my wife and I funded the entire trip with some smart money moves and appropriate budgeting. As a result, we weren’t “in the hole” upon our return.
That felt good. That felt real good.
With our sights set on another European adventure in the near future, we have started to rebuild our trip fund. While neither of us have ever been huge savers, planning for this trip helped us develop some great money behaviors. Since we are already in the habit, saving for our next trip will be that much easier.
The road to your debt-free trip (or large purchase of some sort) starts by following the same simple and straightforward steps we used:
1. Revisit Your Current Spending Plan
One of the most effective ways to save more money is to “find” more money. While you could spend your time roaming the streets for lost change or searching through seat cushions, a more effective approach involves revisiting your spending plan and finding some places where you can cut discretionary expenses.
We did this and found that our “dining out” line item was a little high. So, we cut in half. That money is now a regular contributor to the trip fund. Done and done. SALT™ can help you examine your monthly spending to find places you can cut back.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
Once you find that extra cash, setting realistic expectations will make reaching your goal more real. For instance, you may want to fund a $2,500 trip within 6 months; this will require significant savings each month, about $420. If you can swing it, great! If not, an unreasonable goal can make the process seem pointless—and discourage future savings.
Remember, Rome was not built in a day; saving for a trip to Rome takes time too. Making any large purchase will require some work on your end, but the reward will feel so good when you get it.
3. Determine Your Tracking System
This step is very important. Once you have identified some discretionary income, how will you go about tracking it? Will you manually move the money from your checking to a savings account? Will you open a new, separate account for your big purchase? Perhaps you will take the extra cash and keep it in a jar on your countertop (not recommended, but to each their own).
Whatever you choose, keep these funds separate from the account you use on a regular basis. As always, there will be temptations to spend the money you’re saving. The holidays are right around the corner, and for me, the newest member of our family (our dog, Deacon) continues to “eat away” at some of our disposable income.
Just think about what you’re working toward, and your sacrifice will be worth it—or so I keep telling Deacon. (Who knew dogs were expensive? Oh, that’s right—pretty much everyone who told us before we got one … but that’s a large purchase to talk about on a different day).
How do you save for a big purchase? Share your tips in the comments.
(Photo: Andrew Baldwin)