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

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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
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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!

Be Money Smart When You Travel

After a week hiatus, I am back! Thought I was going to be gone for a long time? No, I invested in this domain name for a year, and I will get my money’s worth out of this domain! I traveled to Peru, and enjoyed llama-watching along with other great experiences. However, this isn’t a travel blog. So, let’s talk money!

I often get asked how I am able to afford traveling. I think some people have an assumption that I must be making bank whenever they see that I am posting photos from another destination. I am in fact, not rolling in dough a la Scrooge McDuck style, unfortunately. However, I have learned to be money smart when it comes to traveling. Learned is the key word here, as with anything else on Breaking the Piggy Bank, I had to learn how to be financially savvy when it came to traveling.

My traveling experiences can be broken down to two categories:

Traveling While Not Planning Ahead and Saying Fuck It

Traveling While Being Money Smart

Can you imagine what the difference may be?

My first experiences traveling were in my early 20s. I was financially stable enough, but hadn’t yet learned how to proactively plan towards something, such as a trip. However, I had a near perfect credit score, which in return gave me a few credit cards with high limits. As you can imagine, my traveling amounted to charging nearly everything on my credit cards. I went to Wisconsin Dells purely by nearly maxing out my credit card. Seeing the pickle I had gotten into, my aunt decided to help me out afterwards. She loaned me the money to pay off that credit card, so that I could pay her back without interest.

Yet, I didn’t learn my lesson there.

The trips I took a few years later to Las Vegas and New Orleans? Basically, I charged everything for them, too. One could say I had no business traveling, and one could be right. Looking back now I realize that I could have still traveled to those places, but I should have been planning for them instead. Furthermore, I should have at least made a solid plan in how to pay off everything was charging on my credit cards for those trips. Instead, my mentality was stuck in the “fuck it, I’ll figure it out later” mode.

Now, in the present, I am a stickler towards being proactive about trips. If I know that there might be the chance to travel somewhere in a certain month, then I go ahead and start saving money towards that months ahead. I have a general travel fund in my bank account goals that allows me to set aside money with each month towards that fund.

So, even if I hadn’t planned on visiting New York City in February, I still had money set aside in my travel fund to use on NYC when my friend invited me there. Had there been no money set aside in that travel fund, then this girl wasn’t going anywhere. As far as Peru, I had been saving towards that since December/ January.

How did I get started? Honestly, the first trip I took while being money smart was to Austin, Texas about two years ago. It’s around that time that I began to use a spreadsheet to keep track of my expenses, and that is the tool that helped save towards Austin. Austin had been a challenge to myself to see if I was able to travel because up to that point I had told myself that I had no business traveling with my financial mishaps. However, Austin was the challenge to start new again. To test myself in how I could save to travel rather than use a credit card. From that and subsequent trips, I learned to be money smart when traveling.

Here are some tips and tools on how to be money smart when traveling that I use:

  • Consider your travel options. What is a cost effective way to get there— Via road, train, or air? When I visited Rochester, I decided to forgo the convenience of an airplane and chose the much cheaper option of taking the train there, instead.
  • If you decide to make a road trip out of it, then calculate gas totals. This is especially important if you are not the one who’s car is being used. Make sure you have that person’s back by setting aside how much your half of gas is going to cost.
  • If you’re going to travel by plane, I’d recommend using the app Hopper to keep track of cheap dates. It’s a very handy app when it comes to deciding the best time to fly somewhere. I’ve also used Google Flights for more last minute trips to compare prices.
  • Consider using airbnb with your friends to split the cost of lodging. If you don’t want the whole apartment to yourself because you’ll be out exploring the whole day, you may consider just renting a room through airbnb. Cheaper option.
  • Use Trip Advisor or Yelp for researching how much meals may cost at your destination. This will give you an idea of how much money you may need to set aside to eat or drink.
    • Trip Advisor has some useful forums when it comes to asking for questions about international trips like how much money people typically needed to get by.
  • You can use your credit card for your trip, BUT don’t let it be your only means of getting by. If you do use it for above average expenses while traveling, then make a plan ahead of time on how you will be paying down that balance!
  • Research what type of free things there are to do at your destination. Sometimes you get lucky and there’s a free festival going on during your time there. There’s always free things to do, so that you don’t have to pay to enjoy your vacation.
  • Find a side hustle: If you’re in a time crunch to save or have unexpected expenses come up, then find a side hustle to get money toward your trip. I have done side gigs, such as dog-sitting, website design, and money management counseling to get money I could use toward a trip.
  • Use a spreadsheet! Like always, I know, I’m a broken record, but for real… it’s a handy tool to help proactively plan your travel expenses and plan to pay back friends on the trip and/or credit card purchases while on the trip. Below are two examples of how I use spreadsheets in planning for a trip.
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In my spreadsheet for the year, I have a tab that only deals with Travel Goals. The amount is pulled from each month’s travel fund allotment. So, if I change the amount going to my travel funds in July, this sheet automatically updates. This allows me control over planning for trips I have in mind. It’s also a good way to plan how much money I’ll have a month after traveling to put towards any credit card purchases I made while on the trip. As you can see, I also used this sheet to keep track of the amount being spent on airbnb.
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This is what it looks like on my monthly sheets. At the top where I include money in and out of the account, I also have a section for goals for the month. As far as traveling, I link up each monthly amount set aside so that it keeps adding up with the following month. The amount you see here of $1,030 is not just from March, but from previous months to get a total of how much I had set aside.

I hope some of these tips can help. I plan on having a more in depth post in the future on how you can create your own travel spreadsheet.

Remember, you can travel, but be smart with your money when it comes to booking, going, and enjoying your trip!

I got gas in the tank. I got money in the bank.

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I just returned from a road trip last night that I had taken to Nebraska and Texas. I planned out the trip in July, taking into account how much money I needed to save up for gas and other things one needs during a road trip. Before leaving in August, I kept blasting The Killers’ song, The Man, because that’s how I felt.

I kept singing, “I got gas in the tank. I got money in the bank. I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man”. I felt like a million bucks, and also frugal because I thought I had a handle on things! I had planned the amount of money that would be needed for gas, gave myself a spending limit for activities, and hit up some friends to couch surf my way through this trip.

Since this blog is about money, here are some lessons I learned about myself because this financial well being thing is clearly still a journey:

  • Despite pre-gaming, “Drunk Angelica” will still spontaneously buy a round of shots for her friends.
    • How to fix for future trips: Add a few (and the word “few” is putting it very lightly…) extra bucks to my travel estimates for “spontaneous drunk shots” because they will happen.
  • Despite meticulously having planned for possible expenses, I did not plan for roadside issues. What did the road whirl at my car? A loud rock! WHACK.  I almost kicked myself for not having anticipated a rock cracking my windshield. Thanks, semi-trailer in the lane next to me for helping me learn to plan better! Now I’m out a few extra bucks than having had anticipated.
    • How to fix for future trips: Don’t drive by semi-trailers.

 

Just kidding, the real fix would be to plan for the unexpected when it comes to driving 17 hours in one day. Shout out to the semi-trailer that taught me this financial lesson! Now, if anyone can recommend any Chicago or suburban places that can fix my windshield, let me know!