Time to Get Creative: Saving For World Travel
People will come up with an innumerable amount of excuses for not doing something but really these are all ways of avoiding the real factor in the equation which is holding them back – fear. As a follow-on from my last post, I want to talk about another reason people like to list – money.
Since I have been talking about travelling, I have had quite a few friends make comments along the lines of, “I would love to do that but I just don’t have the money.” Guess what, neither do I! I don’t earn a particularly great wage and have to pay rent and bills every month just like everybody else. The thing is, how many of us can truthfully say that once rent and bills are paid and money has been set aside for enough food to last the month, we are left with absolutely nothing? No matter how much I complain about being ‘broke’, I know this is never the case and I don’t know a single person for whom this is the case either. What it comes down to is getting your priorities straight. If this is your “dream” or something you “have always wanted to do”, why are clothes shopping twice a month and going out 3 nights a week taking priority? Saving for world travel is tough but how many dreams can you achieve without at least a little effort?
Dublin is an incredibly expensive city. It’s also a city where there is always loads going on so it is very difficult to watch your pennies when you could be out doing something fun most nights. After a couple of months of not saving a cent, I realised it was about time to get serious about this. How can I expect to go gallavanting across the globe without any money? And so, with a little help from my sister, I set myself a weekly budget. There are loads of different suggestions online but this is what worked for me: I deducted my rent, bills, a food allowance, any other fixed outgoings and a minimum amount that I would like to save that month from my salary, then divided what was left by the amount of weeks till my next payday. I then took about €30 off the amount left (to cover any unexpected expenses should they arise) and settled on that figure as my weekly budget. Once a week I make a trip to a cash machine and take that amount out; I suppose you could call that my ‘pocket money’. I make it a point not to use an ATM at any other point in the week, et voila!
So figuring out your budget is the first step. The next step is sticking to it. I won’t lie; it’s not always easy. It means that you are going to have to say ‘no’ sometimes and, yes, spend a bit more time indoors. The thing is, when you put it into perspective, it’s not really that big a deal. Sure, maybe I can’t afford that €60 concert ticket this week but that means I am €60 closer to trekking to see the silverback gorillas in Rwanda. Uh, is there really any contest when you think of it like that?
I have come up with all sorts of ways to manage life on a budget, which mainly involve making life indoors a little bit more interesting (i.e. not just internet and TV). I read a lot, write much more and have also taken up embroidery. The latter is a really relaxing way to spend an evening and I have all sorts of projects in mind to keep me entertained. I am also trying to spend more time in the kitchen and become a bit more creative with food. I am sure there are lots of things to do outside the house on a budget too but, speaking for myself, it can be easy to become tempted when you’re outdoors. That said, I do love to sit in the park on a good day (those are few and far between in Dublin, unfortunately) and also intend to visit the Natural History Museum as well as the Archaeology Museum soon, both of which are free. Sometimes laziness gets the better of me though. Oops 🙂
Dealing with people’s reactions to your budget is often harder than the budgeting itself. Don’t be afraid to say that you can’t afford to do something and suggest an activity which is a little easier on your pocket. Unfortunately, some people still don’t get the hint and it might just be easier to say you have other plans or are not in the mood. Either way, stick to your guns. Also, might I point out, you are still allowing yourself a budget each week so if you manage it properly you will manage at least one good day/night out every week so it’s not all bad news. Instead of buying lunch five days a week, make something at home to take to work and that will leave you enough cash to go to dinner and a movie on the weekend.
The next time you find yourself saying that you can’t afford something you really want, think about it first. Are you sure about that? Or is it just that it is not really a priority to you? If it is, it’s time to get serious about making it happen!