*This is a collaborative guest post
If you long for a vacation, perhaps even something as short and sweet as a family weekend at the Old Ship Hotel in Brighton, but feel that you can’t afford it, then you’re not thinking about it the correct way. You may not be able to afford it right now, but what’s stopping you from saving for your dream vacation or weekend getaway?
Start by drawing up a list of all your fixed expenses. How much do you need to pay your rent or mortgage? How much do you need to pay for utilities? How much do you need for your car payment and insurance? How much do you need to pay for your mobile phone? Write everything down and then add up the total. Next, write down all your sources of income.
The difference between how much you earn and how much you need to spend for your living expenses is your discretionary income. It’s probably a larger amount than you imagined. The reason you didn’t notice it before was because these were small amounts, like a coffee shop visit, lunch with your friends, catching the latest movie at a theater, and so on. If you were to save some of this discretionary income each month, you could easily afford a wonderful holiday.
Here are 3 simple things you could do to save money:
1. Coffee shops:
Do you have a favourite coffee shop? Perhaps, it’s a place you visit when you want some alone time to think about things going on in your life. Perhaps, it’s where you hang out with your friends after church. Perhaps, it’s your stomping ground and you stop by once a day. If you spend $5 on average and go there occasionally, then you may spend £25, £50, or £75 a month. If you just must have your morning coffee there, visiting daily, then you are close to spending £150 a month. Let’s say, to round it out, that you spend £100 a month. That is £1,200 in a year. Money that could be used for your vacation! In fact, you could stay in Southeast Asia for a month for that amount. While the coffee you make at home may taste terrible compared to say what you can get at a place like Starbucks, a bottle or two of Monin coffee syrups will make your home brewed coffee simply delicious.
2. Lunch money:
If you don’t like to cook but you like to eat a hearty meal for lunch, then there is nothing more convenient than stopping off at a deli for lunch. Since you’re probably only spending £10 to £15, rather than £20 to £30 eating at a fancy restaurant, you can justify how much you’re saving. What’s more, you’re also saving on time preparing your own boring sandwiches at home. If you spend, say, £10 a day for 5 days, that’s £50 a week or £200 a month or £2,400 a year. That’s about a few nights of an African safari, where you could be having the time of your life.
Here’s the thing: you can eat lunch affordably and eat a satisfying lunch, too, by learning how to cook. By registering for an online course on how to cook, going to a local cooking class, asking someone to teach you, or just learning on your own watching YouTube videos or experimenting with a cookbook, you can learn to make tasty meals. If you’re too tired to cook in the evenings for the next day after a long day at work, then designate a few hours over the weekend to make yourself a whole batch of meals of quick, healthy meals to store in Tupperware. You would then just take one of these pre-made meals to work each day and heat it up in the staff room.
3. Entertainment expenses:
Entertainment expenses are sneaky. When you go out with your friends, it’s £20 here, then another £10 there, and, putting some petrol in your car may set you back another £40. A fun day with your friends could cost you about £50 on average. Then, of course, there’s home entertainment – Netflix, Hulu, cable TV. It all adds up. Perhaps you could use the £500 to £1500 you spend on entertainment a year for some Scuba diving lessons in Fiji.
In closing, you can afford that dream vacation by changing your spending priorities. By cutting back on many of your expenses and finding cheaper ways to fulfil your needs, you can save the money you need to start to enjoy a life of travel and adventure.