Updated: Jul 7
With all your sunshine and good vibes, there is something we often dread with your arrival. You know what it is. It’s time to watch our social media feed fill with all our friends' lavish tropical vacations all summer long. And while we’re super stoked to see our friends living their BEST lives, we all know the insecurity and questions this can bring about our own selves. The most prominent being, how are these people affording these vacations? Not only do you have to have enough money to pay for the trip itself, but also enough to take time off work. I don’t know about you, but this has always been a daunting, challenging task for me.
With that being said, years of wondering has finally led me to some really solid solutions on how I can join my friends in living their best lives on these vacays. I’d like to take a few minutes to share some tips on how to help you save year round for those dream vacations you’ve always wanted to take.
1. Layout your budget.
Understand what each dollar you make goes towards every month. Grab your favorite pen and notepad (if you’re not old-school like me, open an excel sheet budget template), and write down all your expenses in two main categories: fixed and variable. Fixed expenses are any amount you spend that doesn’t change month to month. For example, rent should cost you the exact same amount each month; that is a fixed expense. Variable expenses are any amount that can change month to month. A good example of this is your water or electricity bill.
Identify all categories of spending, including personal care, eating out, and having fun. Find the average of what you spend in each of these categories per month by looking at your past 3 bank statements (or just 1-2 if you’re pressed for time). This will give you accurate representation of where your money is going each month.
If you're really ready to dive all in, I personally love Intuit's Mint app. You can sync all your checking, saving, and investment accounts to Mint and it will automatically show you your spending in different categories using AI. Super cool, super fast, and super effective.
2. Cut back spending.
Ask yourself: Is this a need or a want? Do you really need that Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ subscription all that the same time? Do you need a Starbucks coffee EVERY morning? Pinch pennies everywhere and anywhere you can!
To take this example further, The Perfect Brew reports that women spend about $2,327 per year on their coffee habit, while men spend about $1,934 per year. Those $5-6 lattes add up FAST huh? Take a moment to imagine the investment potential with that same amount of money in a year.
Let's work on brewing our coffee from home, and examine all the other areas that we can cut back spending just like this.
3. Pay yourself first.
Set aside a set amount for yourself out of every paycheck. This can be anywhere from $5 up. Why is this important, you ask? Having all the money in the world won't matter if we don't have YOU. The journey to financial freedom can be difficult as we adjust our lifestyles away from our status quo, and you shouldn't have to cold turkey yourself. Make sure that you are still setting aside money for pleasure and enjoyment, because you truly do only have one life to live. Live it well!
Figure out what you're comfortable with "paying yourself" based on your budget and be diligent about setting that amount aside. You are the most important thing in your life. Treat yourself!
4. Save your excess income.
Did you stay under your budget this month? Don't go blow the excess at the bar. Add it to your savings! For this money, DON'T TOUCH. Those extra dollars at the end of the month will add up mighty quick.
Think of it this way. If you have $50 left over each month after all your budgeted spending, including your fun money being budgeted (as you should), you'll have saved $600 extra dollars that year! Sign me up.
5. Don't get discouraged.
Saving money takes time, but it doesn't take forever. The compound effect will work in your favor, and you'll be enjoying that time off before you know it!
The biggest enemy to success is fear. Don't be afraid of the journey, we're all here to walk through it with you.
Take these tips and move forward in confidence towards your financial goals. Everyone starts somewhere, and it's never too late (the sooner the better though)! Like the Mint app that I mentioned earlier, there are many valuable apps that can help you set money aside and save for the future in an easy, seamless manner. If you work in food service or an industry that receives tips, make sure to check out the FISK Investments app to gain more autonomy over your virtual tips, and use those to get you towards that dream vacay!