The Truth About Saving & Budgeting
Plot twist! You NEED money to travel. Here is how I save and budget to afford my travels.
Saving and budgeting was never a conversation in my household. I grew up not knowing much about how to actually handle money and to be honest, I don't think my community was well equipped with the experience to have these conversations. So naturally I went into my adulthood struggling a lot with finances.
Throughout my early 20s I continuously I made poor decisions with money like financing a car that was almost half of my yearly salary, using my credit cards to shop until I dropped, and living pay check to pay check. It wasn’t until I became more curious about travel and needed to figure out how to actually afford it long term that I really began to want to make changes in my finances. I decided to take a free finance course on Coursera during my down time and create a saving and budgeting spreadsheet to really start to dig deeper into something that many of us lack, financial management.
The most asked question that I receive is “How do you afford to travel?” and while people come up with very interesting answers to this question on my behalf, my answer is, I save and budget.
Let’s be real, saving and maintaining a budget is hard, but not impossible and it does work! However, it will take some discipline. Start with asking yourself questions like, what daily habits can can you cut back on? How much can you save daily, weekly, or monthly? What things can you live without or cancel for a period of time?
Along with my saving and budgeting spreadsheets, here are my tips on how to save & budget to stop waiting and start living out your dreams!
1. Keep track of your money
The easiest way to lose money is to not keep a record of it. Knowing what is entering and leaving your piggy bank is the first step to understanding how to manage it. Organize this data using a budget tool. There are many budget tools to choose from. They can be provided by your bank, a phone app, or you can create your own using Excel.
Download my personal budget and saving spreadsheet here. It's an instant download and all of the calculations are already done for you.
2. Budget for saving
Once you have an idea of your daily, weekly, and monthly spending habits and finances you can create a savings budget that works for you. Ideally saving 10-15 percent of your earnings a good start.
3. Cut on your spending
The reality is, if you want to save you have to make sacrifices. Cutting on your spending habits is one of the best ways to start saving and maintaining a budget.
Here is how you can cut down on every day expenses:
- Find free and low cost entertainment and activities to do. Beach days, picnics, movie nights with friends, karaoke at home, cooking classes with friends from different backgrounds, community yoga, volunteer events, are a few things that you can do to still enjoy and avoid breaking the bank.
- Cancel subscriptions and memberships that you do not use or can access for free.
- Find alternatives to eating out or find cheaper dining experiences. Try local cuisine instead of a luxury dining experience, cook something new and exciting at home, ask a friend for a cooking class, or make changes to your diet if applicable.
- Buy what you need! We are always being tempted. There are things popping up daily that we think we need or cannot live without. When you find yourself being tempted, wait a day or two to really gauge if it's a necessity. Try not to make impulse purchasing decisions.
4. Have a goal
What is it that you are saving for? Create a list of short term and long term goals that can guide you on your saving journey.
5. Decide on your priorities
Make a timeline for your short term and long term goals. Not only does it feel like a great accomplishment when you can start to check them off as you hit your goals, but it also helps in allocating your money.
6. Do not spend your savings
The most important thing to do on this list is to not use your savings for things that are not on your list of goals. Your savings is strictly for the goals that you have with the exception of serious emergencies. Not having enough for your weekly haircut, wanting a new pair of shoes, or needing a little more to enjoy girls night is simply not a reason to pull money from your savings.
We all have dreams or goals that we would like to achieve and although it is not the most dreamy thing, some of those goals require us to have money. While saving and budgeting is not the only way to afford your dreams or goals, it is one of the ways that you can start now. To afford my travels I rely heavily on budgeting and using my source of income to allow me to live my dreams while I save my money for some of my other dreams and goals. It's not easy, but with time and dedication it is achievable!
Check out more details on tools and resources for saving and budgeting in my E-book.