So you want to take a trip to Europe. But you’re not exactly Warren Buffet or Mark Zuckerberg. So, you’re trying to figure out how to afford this vacation.
Well, in this post, I offered some great suggestions on how to save while traveling. But, perhaps I was a bit ahead of the game. Let’s back up and figure out how to SAVE for this trip to Europe. You know, ways you can squirrel away some money and cut some daily or monthly costs to save up.
Now, I realize that because each person is different, with his/her own unique situation, not all of these will apply to you. And, naturally, we are all bringing home varying paychecks and have different monthly expenses. But, below you’ll find some helpful tips for saving for that dream trip to Europe. (Mine was Santorini!) Some will work for you. And some won’t. Pick and choose and start saving!
- Set up a travel savings account – This is your first task. You have a checking account and maybe a savings account with your bank. Open another account, a savings account for your travel fund. If you are not to be trusted and will steal your own money from that account and put it into your checking account for living expenses, open a savings account with another bank – something you won’t think about. Have money automatically deposited each month into this account. Often you can even have your weekly paycheck split up and can put a portion of it in this travel fund. You won’t see it. You won’t think about it. And you won’t miss it. But, you’ll have it when you’re ready to start booking that trip to Europe.
- Stop eating dinner/lunch/breakfast out or ordering take out – Cook your own meals, make your lunch to take to work. You’ll save a lot. I’m not saying to not go out at all, but if you go out once a week, drop it to once per month. And for craps sake – stop getting those fancy coffee drinks! If you are buying one a day at $5 that’s $150 a month! Make it a treat and buy it once a week.
- Get rid of cable/dish/Netflix/Hulu or whatever your tv poison is – Seriously, do you really need to be watching all that tv anyway? Pick up dvd’s at the library – it’s free! And there are ways to watch your favorite tv shows for free online. You can watch the latest network tv show by simply going to the network website. It doesn’t cost a dime!
And speaking of libraries…
- Stop buying books, magazines and movies – Use the library. It’s free. You can get e-books for your e-reader or tablet. You can check out dvd’s for your movie fix. Yes, I realize it may not be the latest release, but I find it fun to watch a movie from a couple of years back that I find in the library. I’ve discovered some great flicks this way.
- Sell your shit – Do you need all those clothes? All those books? I’m sure there are items in your house or apartment that you could get rid of. I have a bag full of clothes sitting here right now that I’m planning to take to a consignment shop. I may not get a ton of money, but every $20 or $50 adds up. Believe me, there is someone out there who will want your stuff. If you have enough to sell, have a yard sale. Furniture is especially popular as is kids’ stuff (clothing and toys).
- Cut back on your mobile phone plan – Chances are you don’t use all your voice minutes. Maybe you can cut back on your data plan. I know, the data plan is what we love. We are so attached to using our phones as mini-computers. That’s what they are after all. But, if you try to stick with getting on Facebook or the internet or checking e-mail when you are on wi-fi, then you can use less data. Be smarter than your smart phone.
- Cut back on your haircuts/colors – Yes, ladies. This applies more to you. But, seriously, do you need to spend that much on your haircut? Your color or highlights? Find a friend who can cut hair (you probably have one) or go to a school for stylists and get a color for a fraction of the cost. Or color your hair yourself. There are many ways to save here, ladies, and still look good.
- Stop buying new clothing – Do you really need that new dress? That new shirt? Those new heels that you’ll wear … never? While it might be fun and make you feel good at that moment, taking a trip to say, Paris or Prague, will be more rewarding. Trust me.
- Get rid of the expensive gym membership – GO OUTSIDE! Did you know that walking or running outside is good for your brain? (as well as your body) If you are paying a lot for this, drop your membership. And yes, that is coming from a fitness freak. Get outside, do body weight exercises such as push ups and lunges. Walk, run, hike, bike.
And speaking of walking and biking…
- Drive less – I know fuel prices are low right now here in the US but, walk or bike to places when you can. The exercise will do you good. You’ll be doing your part for the environment. And you may save $25. That’s another $25 you didn’t have before. Every little bit adds up.
- Stop buying alcohol – Okay, I know. This coming from the girl who loves her wine. But, stop buying it. Or at least cut back. Save that money for having a lovely Burgundy in Burgundy, France. Save it for having a Belgian beer, in Belgium. Save it for having a dram of Scottish whisky in Scotland. Trust me – the Guinness tastes far better in Ireland than it does here in the US.
- Skip movies and concerts – There are always free events to attend in your city or town. If you are one to go out to clubs, concerts, or museums, look for freebies. I know here in Cincinnati, we are fortunate that our wonderful art museum is free of charge. I know, it’s amazing. With warm weather around the corner, there are always free concerts in the park or movies in the park. So, skip the pricy entrance fees and find something to do for free.
- Rent out a room or get a roommate – This is a tough one and one you may or may not be able or willing to do. But, if you have some extra space, this is a wonderful way to earn some additional money. And, it’s possible you may be helping someone out. Maybe you have a friend who is going through a breakup and needs a place for 6 months while they get back on their feet. You rent her/him your spare bedroom in exchange for a low rent. She/He doesn’t have to lock into an expensive place to live. You get a bit of money for your Europe travel fund. It’s a win-win!
And lastly, be patient. Some of you will be able to save the money quickly due to your individual circumstances. Some of us just bring home more in our paychecks or have fewer expenses. But, there are many of us who will take a couple of years to save what we need. That’s okay. Just stick to it. If you really want this, you gotta say no to some things in order to say YES to that trip to Italy or Germany or Spain.
Friends and family will tempt you into going out for drinks or dinner or to a movie or to the club or to see a concert or to buy that beautiful new shirt or those cool new jeans. Say NO. Will any of these be life changing? Probably not. But, I bet that trip to Europe will. Keep your eyes on the prize. Your true friends will understand. Those who don’t – fuck ‘em. You don’t need friends like that. And your family, well, they should always have your back.
Put it out there. Let people know you are saving for this trip. Be accountable. You’ll be surprised that most folks will be super supportive. And, it will help you stay on track.
You can do this! So, get that account open and start saving. I’m rooting for you!!