We find that the one thing that holds people back from traveling is the perception that they can’t afford it. We always point out to our friends that we earn a median income with some of them earning far more than we do. It’s all about prioritizing travel. If you make travel a priority you will be more willing to forgo certain luxuries in favor of exploring the world. A few years ago that is exactly what we did. We swore to make it a priority to travel at least once a year. In order for us to achieve this, we knew we had to make some financial sacrifices. It forced us to take a closer look at where we were spending our money and examine if these expenditures were more important than our dream to travel. It wasn’t easy. Here are some of the ways that we managed to find over $1000 a month for our travels.
We started by listing all our expenses. It is paramount that you understand where your money is going in order to make decisions on what to cut. Gather all your bank statements, credit card statements any cash receipts you may have and build a comprehensive picture of expenditures down to that latte that you simply can’t live without. When we did this here is what we found:
We were spending over $500 a month on dining out! We enjoyed eating out. It was almost ritualistic for us to go out to eat at least twice a week, most times more. We work hard and this was our recompense, a nice dinner accompanied by some craft cocktails at the latest Los Angeles eatery. We also had a favorite local bar where we would watch sports and hang out with friends on weekends. Depending on the game, the bar tab was always upwards of $60. We knew that in order to make our travel dreams a reality, such superfluous expenditure would have to be eradicated. We pivoted money from this expense towards groceries and spent more quality time together in the kitchen exploring and perfecting recipes. We also invested in a coffee machine which replaced the daily coffee runs that were costing us at least $50 a week. Overall saving per month $400.
Another expense that stood out was our cable bill. At the time we were with direct tv and they were demanding $140/month for their services and what was worse is we were under contract! We are sports fanatics. We watch everything from Formula 1 to Tennis, Football, everything! With packages geared towards sports heads like us, we had taken the bait and recently signed with them. After some number crunching, we figured that even paying the cancellation fee which was $175 it was still cheaper than paying their exorbitant monthly fee for another year. We found streaming services like Fubo tv or sling that were a fraction of the cost and provided most of the sports we wanted. A 10.99/month Netflix subscription coupled with Amazon streaming services that come with our prime membership was more than sufficient to cover shows we liked and movie nights. Monthly saving $100
We had two cars even though one of us took public transportation to work. This meant that one car was parked for most of the time apart from when we had divergent plans which was seldom. So we sold one car. Now, this may not be possible for most of you but you can still save money on your car note by trading in expensive high-end models for cheaper, more gas efficient options. We have an inside joke that we always quip when we are driving in Los Angeles where expensive cars are ubiquitous, we always say “I will drive my 12-year-old car all the way to Paris.” We also reassessed the insurance coverage we had and found that by lowering some benefits and increasing our deductible, we could save significantly. Please consult an Insurance Agent for expert guidance on this. Total Monthly saving $500.
Cell Phone Plans:
We found that we were paying for individual cell plans on separate carries which were costing us $180 combined. Getting on a family plan would save us $80/month. We resisted the urge to upgrade our phones and get locked into an additional $20/month/phone charge. Our phones still worked great despite being a couple of years old and upgrading them was unnecessary. Smaller cell companies are offering deals with a low flat monthly rate with everything included. Most times these carriers are using the same towers that the bigger carriers use so you would not be sacrificing much in coverage. Monthly saving $80/month.
We also found that we were paying gym fees for a gym we seldom went to. We nicknamed this bill our fat tax. But in all seriousness, while being fit and healthy is important, there are many ways to achieve fitness. For us, going to the gym was not it. We had the best of intentions when we enrolled but we weren’t maximizing its use so it was chopped. We preferred hiking LA’s numerous trails and walking along the California coastline anyway. We were also members of certain organizations that required monthly or yearly contributions. While some of this organizations were important to us, we had to weigh their importance against our end goal. Total monthly saving $120
So it turned out that one of us (name withheld for harmonious reasons) was a fashionista and was spending money monthly on the freshest gear (yeah I am old). Settling for off-brand clothes and limiting the size of your closet can be a great source of saving. It was for us. We even donated the less used clothes to charity for a sizeable tax deduction. Monthly saving $200
While all these seem fairly straightforward on paper, we assure it was not easy. Cutting back takes willpower, discipline, and patience from all parties involved. We had to constantly remind ourselves of the end goal which was traveling the world. We found different ways of staying motivated like buying travel themed calendars for the house and putting up travel wishlists accompanied by gorgeous images in different rooms. We also held each other accountable and also served as therapeutic ears whenever one of us wanted to vent about the changes. The hardest thing to change by far was our mindset. To accept less (materially) when you can have more is counter-intuitive. Being okay with driving a 10-year-old Prius over a late model BMW or shopping at Payless shoes rather than getting those red bottomed heels you have been coveting is tough. If you can do this, the world is your oyster!