After the decision was made that we were absolutely going to do a trip, the next question that arose was, "so how will we pay for this?" Between the two of us, I think I'm the more financially-concerned mind, and while B was confident we'd "figure it out," I was nervous that I'd just committed to this. Money had been part of the reason our travel dreams had been crushed previously, but it took me some time to realize, I had just been going about it all wrong.
How do you not worry about money?
A few years ago, I sat with a friend and complained that I didn't think I'd be able to afford to continue yoga classes that I had come to truly love. He said, "If you want something bad enough, you can afford it. You should never not do something you love on the basis of money." I'd heard this adage from so many people and I just couldn't understand it. How do you not worry about money?
Within the past year, I really considered this idea. Could I ever feel like I wasn't strapped to my income? I proudly pay for the things in my life on my own, including about $300/month in student loans. With rent, bills, gas, and very little discretionary income leftover, how could I save?
B sat me down and asked me seriously, "Are we really doing this? Because if we are, I'm turning on savings mode now." I said yes, and that I would do my best to do the same.
In an effort to just get started, in any small way, I grabbed a large jar and mod-podged a bunch of vacation photos all over it. I figured it was the easiest thing to do. Over the first week, B and I added money here and there. Whenever we had a few extra dollars, we'd throw it in the jar. If we passed up an activity or a purchase, we'd take that money out of the bank and put it in the jar. As we got into the second week, B started to text me at work and we'd discuss things we thought would be best to pass on: "Put it in the jar!!!!" After just about 20 days of saving, we are at $400.
I finally realized that the trick was not in ignoring finances, or being frivolous, it was about prioritizing what means most to you.
I finally realized that the trick was not in ignoring finances, or being frivolous, it was about prioritizing what means most to you. If this trip was going to be my goal, I would start to cut away the things that are not in line with that goal: getting my hair done, eating out more than once a week, coffees on my way to work, etc.
That jar is now the symbol of our upcoming freedom; it's in our living room so that we see it everyday. It's a great reminder to keep focused on our goal. This exercise is also a really powerful tool in self control and simplifying our complicated lives. I've seen the positives already: I've avoided a few hangovers (score), ate healthier, and enjoyed quality nights at home with close friends and family to avoid going out.
Now a jar might not be the best option for everyone (people with roommates in particular) for security purposes (we also plan on depositing our cash once we reach a certain amount), but the idea of having a symbolic item is important. Make an inspiration board, make a photo of your goal your background photo on your phone, anything to remind you that this goal is the top priority.
B and I are both also saving individually. I use direct deposit to put about $200/paycheck into my savings, which prevents me from even having the money in my checking account in the first place. This is by far, the best roadblock I've put on myself. If I don't have access to it, I don't even consider it. $200/paycheck is going to leave things really tight, but it's all for the goal.
We will be using the hashtag #putitinthejar to share our tips and accomplishments in saving money for this trip. If you have anything you'd like to share, use the hashtag in your posts!
"Travel is never a matter of money, but of courage."