Monday, April 27, 2015

How I Can Travel (as much as I do)!

Hey there! Happy Monday. It is hard to believe May is almost here! I love this time of year:)

I am pumped because I am heading to Chi-town in 4 short days! I have heard great things about the city and am excited to explore. I just gotta get through this final week of classes and work before heading up to D.C. on Thursday night. Thankfully, everything should be smooth sailing.

I was out at brunch this weekend with some work friends and amidst our many conversations (including the Bruce Jenner interview-> please watch it you have not yet, so heartbreaking/interesting/important), a comment was made to me about how much I travel. The day before my friend and I had been talking about a similar comment made to him (a teacher) about how teachers in his school don't understand how he has so much money to be able to travel so much on a teacher's salary. Then I read another bloggers post about traveling and how it always seems to bring up jealously in a lot of people, especially since you can see where everyone is going on social media. However, you never know how people are affording their travels and many sacrifices are being made for people to do so.

I work in education, yet I am still able to go on many trips a year. It is what is important to me, so I make sure that throughout the year when I am not traveling, I am making sound financial decisions so I can save money to travel. Traveling is my priority at this point in my life. I know it is not everybody's, and that is ok, but these are some ways I afford it:

  1. I automatically save a certain amount of money every month from my paycheck. I live on much less than what I make. Every month an automatic draft goes out of my checking account to a high interest savings account (and by high interest, I mean I earn like .9%...ha). This money is not touchable. I ONLY skip a month if I have had an emergency, like a big car repair or household expense. These probably only happen once a year. Otherwise, that money is growing and only being used to traveling, school and big purchases. I also like to keep that money at a certain amount to make sure I have enough for a rainy day.
  2. I invest in retirement. What does this have to do with traveling? Well, again, I am used to living on much less than what I make. I max out a Roth IRA every year and also contribute to a 457(b). This helps save me on taxes and is a nice chunk of savings for a rainy day. I have earned a lot of money from the Roth, and even though I don't plan on touching it, when my savings gets lower, I know I have a backup to take out without penalty if something catastrophic happens. That being said, my savings never gets THAT low.
  3. I have always worked other jobs. I have held a job since I was 15 and have always saved. In college I had a high paying part-time job (for college standards) that allowed me to save for grad school. In grad school I lived at home so I wouldn't have to take out loans. I saved every extra penny I made. After grad school, I babysat and worked at a pool in my summers for extra money. Even though I now work year round, I still work at a local county club 1-2 days a week during the summer for some extra money. It's easy and gives me some spending cash. Working also means I am not spending money, am staying busy, and am meeting new people!
  4. I don't have a car payment. My lovely 2004 Saturn Ion may not be the most luxurious car out there, but I bought it straight out of college with cash. I have NEVER had a car payment. My view on a car is: Is it reliable? Does it get good cash mileage? Is it affordable? That is about it. I just don't care to have fancy or expensive cars, and I would never buy a car new or one that is over a certain amount of money-> just not worth it to me. And I take care of them- oil changes and tire rotations frequently. I also don't care about fixing every little thing that goes wrong- my coolant light is currently broken, but I just don't care to fix it, and there is a funny thing with the ignition switch. My car now has over 100k miles, and I am hopeful I can get a few more years out of her! At least until I am done with my PhD:).
  5. I can afford my mortgage. I was very particular about what I could afford when I was looking to buy a condo. I wanted a place that I could put 20% down but also one in which my monthly payment would be less than me renting a similar place in the area. I have now owned for over 3 years, and I do not feel "house pour" at all. I put a little extra into my mortgage payment when I can, but I am very comfortable with what I owe and the space I have in my little place. It is all I need:)
  6. I don't go shopping. I rarely am out buying clothes or household items. I will only go on Amazon and order online when I need something specific. I am wearing the same things I have had for year. I usually reserve getting "treats" for my birthday Christmas when I can get them as gifts. Part of this is due to the cost of new items, but mainly I don't like shopping anymore. I would rather know exactly what I need, find it online and order it! I also have many friends that allow me to borrow clothes for weddings and events:). My dress from the wedding in Florida a few weeks ago was borrowed from a friend! Friends have the best closets!
  7. I budget for EVERYTHING. I LOVE MINT.COM. It is the best budgeting tool ever, and I update it every month for my specific needs. I typically only eat out once a week, and I very rarely go to movies, concerts or expensive events. I am all about going to free festivals or going with friends places and not getting anything (like a brewery-> it also helps that I do not like beer). I always weigh how much buying/participating in something is worth to me. Sometimes that $3 coffee is not worth the money and other times that $50 football ticket is. It depends on my mood and is always something I ask myself. I find so many people do not think about what they are spending on and just spend money to spend it without really contemplating if it is worth it to them. No point in spending money if you don't have to! Honestly, most of my "fun" money goes towards race registrations and running shoes, which obviously would not be worth it to most people but is important to me! That being said, I do say no to races due to costs because they can get expensive.
  8. When I do travel, I travel cheap. I am a big fan of Air B & B apartments/houses as opposed to hotels (more space and you can cook), taking my own snacks with me as opposed to eating out the entire trip, and finding deals ahead of time. I am smart with flight tracking and try to stay with people when I am going to an area where I know someone. I also typically use my same principles of frugal living when I do travel and only spend money on things I really want to. I walk as many places as possible, and I don't buy things when I go places- I am there for the experience and not the things that are there. I like taking pictures and making albums or framing photos when I return. I am also a big believer in traveling in groups where you can save on expenses a little easier.
  9. I am single with no kids. I know that I am in a place in life where I CAN travel. I am just worrying/taking care of myself, so it is much easier for me to budget for traveling at this point in my life. I am in school again, but as I have said before, I live well under my means, so I am paying for school out of pocket as well. This is limiting my trips more than I would like, but I am still able to do and see what I like with proper planning.I also turn work conferences into mini-trips, too! I am headed to Philadelphia in the fall and Montreal next spring for "school!" :)
  10. Travel is my priority. When you really want to do something, you make it happen. I am also super lame 99% of my life when I am not traveling, so keep that in mind! I believe in living in accordance to what is important to you and not judging those who do it differently. Most of my friends are understanding of my frugal principles and those who do say I am "cheap" are not my best friends anyways. I only offer my financial advice if they ask it, but otherwise I do me:)
Cheers to free coffee at work and the end of the semester!

Some other small things I do to save are: do all my errands in one day or on the way home from work so I am not wasting gas, walk/ride bikes when I can, use craigslist for furniture, buy books second hand online (I do this for textbooks), keep my house at a reasonable temperature to save on heating/cooling (65 in the winter, 78 in the summer), have only Netflix instead of cable, do my cell phone policy with Republic Wireless ($25 per month!), buy in season at the grocery store (and buy extra when my normal stuff have deals), do my own nails, get my hair cut at work and only a few times a year (yay Cosmetology students!) and use minimal hair/facial products (less is more!). 

How do you save for travel? Do you feel jealous when you see people all over social media going places?

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