Where do you get money to travel? My damn self!

travel meme

Look there have definitely been times when my bank account has given me that response, but traveling requires creating a money goal and sticking to it. I can’t afford to travel on a last minute whim UNLESS I have already been setting money aside as a general traveling money goal. Because traveling has become a thing I enjoy in my late twenties, I always include a travel line in my monthly budget (or as I call it wealth management because the word budget makes me thing of money in a negative way).

I’ve written before about the wonders of using a spreadsheet and other visuals to keep track of your expenses and money goals so I would recommend you check that post out! For me traveling is a category I take into account every month when I plan out my wealth management. This does not mean that I am traveling each month, and it also does not mean that I am setting aside the same amount each month.

The point of budgeting is to be flexible based on the needs you are facingwhich for me means that sometimes I may not put much aside into my travel money goal because I have other priorities for that month. However, there is always something no matter how small that I have in that goal because it is something that I enjoy doing.

In addition to actively creating a money traveling goal, I recognize that my ability to travel is a privilege as well. I know that I do not live paycheck to paycheck. I used to, and during those days traveling was definitely not on my radar because I wasn’t sure how to do it. I am financially stable, even though sometimes I don’t feel like it. I also acknowledge that the only responsibilities I have are to myself and my two dogs, which means that I essentially only have to financially take care of myself (housing, etc.). I am certain that if I had children, my approach to saving for traveling would change and that is a challenge I may someday have to figure out.

Budgeting is about learning how to prioritize whatever is in your life at the moment.

I’m planning on writing a future post about executive functioning and budgeting, as it is hard to budget if we don’t first work on our executive functioning skills. Prioritizing is an executive functioning skill.

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Egypt (dream trip since I was a child). I didn’t decide on this trip until early March, and I was supposed to take the trip in mid May. I had some money already in my general traveling goal. As I mentioned before, I actively work on this goal each month because it is a priority I have made for myself. However, the amount I had already been setting aside wouldn’t be enough.  I essentially had two months to work on this money goal before the trip. I saved up the following toward that money goal:

March – $480
April – $545
+Amount I already had in my general traveling goal – $515
____________________
Total in this money goal – $1,540

That meant that $1,540 was my working budget for all of my Egypt expenses. This takes into account flights, lodging, travel size items and spending money while in Egypt.

How did I get this money?

  • Proactively setting money aside each month for travel, even if I didn’t know any specifics yet.
  • Cutting back on expenses during the months of March and April by doing small things, such as:
    • “Hay comida en casa” which translates to eating at home
    • Buying groceries the week of needing them. This helped me in terms of not tossing out as much that ends up spoiling because I somehow forget I won’t eat everything right away.
    • Driving less, which meant I wasn’t spending as much on gas.
    • Going out less.
    • Buying only things I really needed — no splurge purchases!

A key thing to take into account is to also be flexible even when you have your money goal set. In my case, I had to dip into my travel money goal amount for a work trip I had in late April. While some of the basics were covered by my job for this work trip, I had to cover a few other expenses myself with the possibility of not getting reimbursed for these expenses as I work for a non-profit. This meant my initial $1,540 went down, but that was OK because I re-calculated what I had to work with toward Egypt.

As with anything, if something is a priority that you want to save for, then you create a money goal and work towards it! Traveling is a priority for me, but as life comes and goes, that may change and I may find myself creating a money goal for something else that becomes important to me as a person.

If you want more tips on how to be cost effective when planning a trip, read my other post: Be Money Smart When You Travel. In the future, I plan on having specific posts that break down what trips to different places cost. Oftentimes I am googling like a madwoman trying to figure out how much money to save or take with me to certain destinations, so I figured I can’t be the only one that wishes more people would outline their expenses when they went on trips. I’m trying to look out for anyone who wants to be money smart when traveling!


What are some things you prioritize as money goals? Share below!

Last Car Payment, Who This?

Image result for celebrate gifImage result for celebrate gif

This month I finally sent the last payment on my car, and it feels so good! The prospect of not having to make a monthly car payment anymore is amazing. This is more than a mere ending to the chapter on car loans because the simple act of being done is a milestone in how far I have come in my financial journey! If you haven’t read Stop Hitting Snooze on Your Wake Up Call yet, I highly recommend you check out this previous blog post. Nearly losing my car was the kick I needed to start taking my money issues seriously, and this is why this final payment is major to me.

Hop into the time machine with me for a bit.

I bought my 2013 Jetta, new in March of 2014 from the Volkswagen dealership. Things were financially great for me during this time. My credit card debt was still manageable at the time, and I had not yet bought a house with my mom (both of which contributed toward my financial mishaps, but that is another post for another time). My credit score was high, and after having been in an accident where my previous car had been totaled, I qualified for a loan through VW Credit for the car with the down payment my insurance payout provided. I felt good because my economic standing and stability also allowed me to have some upgraded features in this new car compared to my previous totaled one. At the time, I would have never imagined I would one day be close to having this Jetta repossessed. Hindsight 2020, everything that has occurred since then has only served as lessons.

As I began to have trouble with my money management skills and debt began to stagger later on, I still always prioritized my car payment among other things. That is until things took a turn downhill, and I began to miss my car payments.

It began like most poor money management habits. For example, I would make payment a few days after the due date because I didn’t have enough money at the time of due date. Telling myself “I’ll pay it as soon as my paycheck is deposited on Friday” became a slippery slope, and I believe this type of mentality can be a slippery slope for anyone! Before I knew it, I had become very late and was flat out not paying for the car. “I’ll pay it as soon as my paycheck is deposited on Friday” became “I’ll pay it with next month’s paychecks. I’ll catch up then”.

For anyone that is good at math, let me remind you that I got the car in March 2014, but I didn’t finish paying it off until this month of May 2019. As I wrote in Stop Hitting Snooze on Your Wake Up Call I fell behind by four monthly payments. When I finally decided to take control of my actions, I asked VW Credit for help. They worked with me as much as they could, and the agreement we came to was that I would pay the current month, plus two of the missed months within a month. The remaining two missing months would then get tacked on to the end of what would have been my last payment of March 2019. I was so grateful and relieved that they had been willing to work with me, and so I had to hustle quickly.

I essentially had to pay about $1,155 in a single month. This payment was broken down into three different deadlines within the month, and the only way I was allowed to pay was through Western Union. I had to run around a lot to get these payments in on time, and fortunately around this time I had gotten a second part-time job to my full-time job. I have learned that when the fire is lit under you, then you really figure things out and go. It was stressful, but not as stressful as when I was ignoring the problem.

That’s the point I want to emphasize when it comes to this blog project. It can be stressful to gain control of your money management skills and financial situation, but it is way better than the anxiety ignoring it causes! Not knowing and not acknowledging is worse because it doesn’t make whatever financial mess you are in disappear. It only gives you less power in knowing, and then things can get more out of control, which will in return add more stress.

Making my last car payment is a milestone for me because of the highs and lows that I have been in financially. Discover what milestones you have in mind for measuring your own steps toward better money habits and skills. These can be anything from “I paid more than the minimum on my credit card this month” to “I paid all my bills on time this month” to (insert your own milestone here). You get to decide what your milestones are, and you get to celebrate when you accomplish them.

Most importantly, do not let others tell you what counts and what doesn’t count as a financial milestone AND do not measure your milestones against someone else’s. Years ago I saw someone post on Facebook that they finished paying off their car within a year, and that’s great but it wasn’t going to be my milestone. Quit playing the comparison game in finances. We all have different jobs, income, responsibilities and lifestyles. This means our financial milestones all look different, and MEAN something different to each of us.

So go ahead, celebrate you and what is important to you on this money management journey!