My 95-year old grandmother once told me how she and my grandfather used to save money. On payday, they would take all of their earnings (in cash!) and divide them up into envelopes. There was an envelope for groceries, one for clothes, another for going out fancy time, etc. You get the drift.
When the money was gone from each envelope, that meant there was no more of that thing for the month! (Hopefully they were very careful with that grocery money...)
I find this to be genius.
This envelope strategy has a few huge advantages:
- You know exactly how much you have + how much you have left.
- Cash is a tangible thing. Credit card is magic that comes to us from the unicorn lands.
- You have created for yourself a monthly budget, with the realities of how much income you bring in.
Of course, this is not 1956, and I certainly don't recommend bringing a fat wad of greasy cash into your home after each payday. However, there is a way to mirror this strategy so that all of your surprise travel dreams can come true!
No, really. I did it in 2012 as a first year public school teacher in North Carolina. North Carolina, y'all. I think at the time my fine state ranked 48th in teacher pay. So... yeah. I was basically making $1.35 an hour. Approximately. (Disclaimer: I have done zero math for this post and the $1.35 number is for hyperbolic effect.)
Did I also have student loans? Yes. Did I also pay a monthly car payment? Yes. Did I also sometimes eat? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Here's how I did it: the envelope strategy without the envelopes! It looked something like this:
After-tax income - fixed bills - necessities (groceries, gas, misc) - TRAVEL SAVINGS = what's left for extras.
Travel Savings WAS A BILL that I paid myself each month. It went straight into savings, right when I felt flush with my North Carolina teacher's salary big time winnings, and it was mine no more. It belonged to Argentina.
And so, after 10 months of this strategy, I flew off to spend my 2 month summer in Argentina. I had zero credit card debt, and a helluva lot of fun.
I'd love to hear your travel tips! How do you save for your travel amazingness?