Travel Finance: Cut Expenses to Travel
You know you want to travel, but may be wondering how to cut expenses to travel. The money to do these things may already be there, but you don’t know it. Regardless if you are trying to get out of debt to travel or if you just want to start saving to travel, we have a bunch of tips to help you cut your expenses to travel.
First you need to figure out what your main goal is. Are you paying off debt to be able to travel or are you saving to travel? What’s your main objective to cut expenses to travel? You really should only focus on one at a time. If you need to pay off debt, focus on that first. Once your debt is paid off you can create a new goal to figure out how much you need to save.
Set Your Goal
Set your goal for how much you need to pay off in debt or save. You will know how much your goal needs to be by adding up all of your debt or creating a budget for your travels. It works best to set an actual goal instead of saying you will save or pay off as much as possible. It’s easier to track your progress with an actual set goal.
Make a Budget
When setting your goal, you will have to make a budget. If your goal is to travel, research the prices of air fare, train fare, car rental, bike rental, accommodations, food per day, activity and entrance fees , insurance, and supplies. How long will you be traveling? Will you need to put any possessions in storage? If your goal is to pay off debt first, you will need to gather all of your debt and figure out exactly how much you owe.
Not only will you need to know a set amount to reach these goals, you also need to know what your expenses are now. If you don’t already have a monthly budget and aren’t using a spreadsheet to track your expenses, then how will you ever know where your money is going and where you can cut costs? It’s imperative that you know where all of your money is going in order to reach your new goal.
If you haven’t been tracking all of your expenses in a spreadsheet or budgeting software program to analyze them, then you really have no idea where your money is going. It does take a little time to set up a budget and track it, but once it’s set up, it’s easy to stay on top of. No excuses about not having enough time to do this. All you need to do is give up one night of messing around on the internet or watching TV to get it all set up.
After you’ve added everything up and looked at how much you’ve spent over the last few months, you may think that you don’t have any available funds to put towards more of your debt or to save. However, there are usually a lot of extra funds once you are willing to make a few lifestyle changes.
Cut Your Expenses
If you pay for any of the below, cutting these expenses or lowering them will get you out of debt and/or saving towards traveling quicker.
- Car: Yes, you need a way to get to work, but there are other ways to do it besides having your own car or two. We use to both take our own cars to work each day. When my car needed to be replaced, we sold it and didn’t buy another one. Instead, we started carpooling with each other.
Drew works in construction and has a lot of tools he takes to work with him. Because of this, he takes the car and drops me off at my work on the way to his. He picks me up after he gets off. This makes for long days for me, but I was able to work out with my supervisor to change my work schedule to working 10 hour days, 4 days per week.
Sometimes, he’s at job site locations that just don’t work for him to drop me off. When that’s the case, he drops me up at the train station and I take the train into work instead. It’s a lot cheaper than us both having our own vehicles and has saved us money from gas, car insurance, registration, and maintenance for a second vehicle.
If something is close by in the neighborhood, consider walking or taking your bike instead. All of those little trips add up. Making sure to run all your errands one day per week also saves more on how much you spend on gas.
- Cable, Satellite or Any Subscription Services for Your TV: We actually canceled all of these services years ago. We don’t miss them at all. If you aren’t ready to give them up completely, cut back to the most basic packages and you will still save yourself money each month.
- Seeing Movies at Movie Theaters: It’s expensive. Wait until they come to Redbox for $1.20. You can also check-out DVDs from your local library. If you really need to see it in a theater, wait until it gets to a second run theater. We have one in our neighborhood that we go to sometimes on Tuesday nights when they offer admission for two for $4 per movie.
- Buying DVDs or Blue Ray Disks: Just stop. You don’t need them. How many times are you really going to watch those DVDs to be worth how much you paid for them? If you plan on traveling long term, you will have to get rid of these anyway. Save yourself the hassle now.
- Landline Phone Service: If you have a cell phone, it’s time to get rid of that landline. How often do you still use it? We hadn’t used our landline for years when we finally cut it.
- Change Phone Services: We changed our phone service a few months ago to Ting. We went from almost $200 per month to an average of about $75 per month. Last month our bill was under $60. It’s all based on how much you actually use. We are very happy with Ting phone service and recommend checking them out. Lucky you, Ting has a special offer for AfterGlobe readers.
- Meals and Fancy Coffee Drinks Out: Start making all your food at home. It’s much cheaper and will save you a ton each month. Those fancy coffee drinks add up quick. Giving them up can save you hundreds of dollars each year. You can buy a bottle of the syrup to make those drinks for less than the price of buying one of those drinks out.
- Food from High-end Grocery Stores: I know, it’s so much fun to go shopping at places like Whole Foods, but it eats away your grocery budget so quickly. We now do all of our shopping at Costco and Winco Foods. It saves a bunch of money each month and we have way more food in our fridge. Our grocery bill is half the amount it used to be.
- Manicures and Pedicures: I use to get these every couple weeks. Now I only get them about 4 times per year. Sure I miss them, but I’d rather have the money I spent on them more. It feels like a really big treat now when I do get them.
- New Books, Magazines, and CDs: You can check all of these out from the library or borrow them from friends.
- House Cleaning or Yard Maintenance Services: These are luxuries that are not needed. If you have debt you should be paying that off over any kind of services. Besides, since you won’t be going out as much now, you will have the time to do these things yourself.
- Lower Your Thermostat: We use to keep our thermostat much higher during the winter and much lower during the summer. Our heating and cooling bills use to be crazy high. Changing our settings by a couple degrees more than cut our bills in half. During the winter we don’t raise our thermostat above 65 degrees. If we get cold we throw on a sweater or a blanket. At night when we are sleeping we drop it even lower to 55 degrees.
- Stop Upgrading Electronics: I do all of my writing, maintenance of this website, and photo editing on an over 5 year old netbook with a messed up screen. I sure would like to upgrade, but I don’t because it still works. I’d rather have more funds to pay off our debt quicker.
- Bottled Water: Not only is this a huge waste of money, it hurts the environment. Drink your tap water. If your tap water isn’t suitable for drinking, buy a water filter pitcher and refill your bottles from it.
- Cigarettes: This should be a no brainer. It’s time to quit; for your health and your wallet.
You don’t have to give everything up entirely. Look at what you can give up and how you can cut back in other areas. If you cut $5 of expenses from your budget each day, that’s $1,825 you have per year to put towards your travel goals.
The Downside to Making Changes
Unfortunately, there is a downside to making these changes. Your friends and family might not understand your new lifestyle of cutting costs, not going out, and putting all available funds towards paying off debt and/or saving to travel. I honestly can’t remember the last time our friends invited us out to do something. People forget that there is plenty you can do for free!
If you feel like you are missing out on social activities, plan a free activity you can invite your friends to. Have them over for a potluck cookout or picnic, invite them to go hiking, or for a bike ride. Host a movie night where everyone brings their favorite movie over. Have croquet, corn hole, a bunch of board games, or know someone who does? Have a game night at your house or a friend’s. Just make sure that no matter what you host, it’s a potluck and people provide their own alcoholic beverages.
True friends will respect the changes you have made. They will be happy to support you on your goals and will make sure you aren’t always sitting at home by yourself. Sadly, you will also lose friends over this. Just look at it as a way to find out who your real friends are. If you are firm on your new goals to get free of debt and/or save to travel being a priority, you have to be ready to decline many invitations, and be ready to face the consequences.
With all of these tips and ideas on ways to cut expenses to travel, you should be a few steps closer towards your goals to travel. There will be sacrifices and it will be difficult, at times, but it will all be worth it in the end when you are free of debt and traveling the world! Isn’t your dream worth that kind of ambition and dedication to your goals?
Do you have other ways you’ve cut expenses to travel?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013.