Updated Date: April 5, 2022
I was once broke. Actually, twice. One time, I had $8 in my account, and the other time I had $50.
It was the worst feeling. Not having any money to cover my expenses. Feeling dependent on others to help me make it through to my next paycheck.
The second time this happened I decided that I never wanted to be broke again. I told myself that I was always going to have enough in my savings account, so I never had to rely on others for money.
Thankfully, I got a better job that paid more than $180 per week (part-time), and I could finally start to save money.
My goal at the time (in 2015) was to save money to travel the world. I wanted enough in my bank account to be able to quit my job, walk out of that corporate office, and travel without having to work.
It seemed impossible at the time, but very slowly over the course of 4-years, I saved enough to do just that.
Saving enough to travel the world isn’t quick, nor is it easy, but if there is anything I want you to take away from this post, it’s this – traveling the world is very possible if you know how to save.
Here are 9 tips that will help you to live frugally, save money, and travel more:
Change Your Mindset
To save money to travel, you have to get in the mindset of living with less. This doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you enjoy – it means that you need to stop viewing money as a way to consume more and start viewing it as a way to experience more.
Most of the things we buy are unnecessary – I mean, think about it. That Bluetooth speaker – unnecessary. That salad spinner – unnecessary. That new jacket – unnecessary. That cheesecake and coffee from the bakery – unnecessary. That new red lipstick that is a slightly different shade than your other lipstick – unnecessary.
These are things we want – not need – and none of these are going to help us progress in life to the next step or help in accomplishing a goal.
Ever since I changed my mindset and started living with less, I have become a lot happier. I own what I need, and I have more resources (money) to focus on my hobbies and fulfilling my goals.
I do not feel weighed down by all of my stuff, and in fact, I feel quite free because if I needed to, I could pack up everything in my apartment in a few hours and head out on the road. This to me is what living with less is all about – being free to live a life that I want and having the money to do it.
Here are a few things that have helped me shift my mindset:
Practice saying no to things you don’t need.
A trip around the world is way more exciting than most things you can buy. A tv or a week in Bali? A new sweater or a cooking class in Italy? This is how you need to start thinking when you go to buy something. Would you rather buy this or use the money for your trip?
I say no about 95% of the time. Remember, if you want to save money to travel more, you don’t want to add more stuff into your life. You are going to end up selling everything or putting it into storage anyway, so why add more?
Get more use out of the things you already own.
Most of us have pretty much everything we need. At one point, I looked through my entire closet and found a whole pile of clothes that I hadn’t worn in months. I decided to repurpose my own closet and start getting more use out of the items that I already owned. Reuse what you already own before buying something new.
Remember your goal and your purpose for why you are saving.
Your goal to travel the world should constantly be on your mind. Create a vision board, set the lock screen on your phone to a photo of a place you want to visit – these things will help to remind you why you are saving. It’s so easy to get distracted and having these reminders will help keep you focused on your goal.
Just because you can’t buy something now, doesn’t mean you can’t later.
Let’s say right now, I have set a goal to travel the world. It is where I am putting most of my savings. One day, I will return from my trip, and if I want a new pair of shoes, nicer kitchenware, or a better couch, those things will still be waiting for me. I am just putting off those purchases for now, so that I can have the experience of a lifetime on my trip. You can always buy something later if you really need it.
Get a savings account
Go to your bank and set up a savings account. We had a savings account called “Trip” and put money into it every time we got a paycheck. Once that money was in there, we could not spend it until we left on our trip.
If you leave your travel savings in your checking account, you’ll find it becomes too easy to give in and splurge a little bit after a hard day of work, or after a good day of work, or just after work.
Do you see what I’m saying here? Humans are very good at finding excuses to splurge. But remember, you are putting your money aside into your savings account so you can splurge on the vacation of your life.
Reduce your expenses
Take a look at all of your expenses – both discretionary and fixed expenses. These expenses include food and drink, accommodation, transportation, entertainment, clothes – anywhere you spend money. Can you cut out or reduce any of these expenses?
Here’s what I recommend doing. Print out your 4 most recent credit card and/or bank statements and write down and categorize all of your expenses. All of them.
Take a look at the totals in each category – where are you spending your money?
I guarantee there are several ways you can save more each month.
Can you reduce your grocery bill? Can you make your own coffee instead of buying it? Can you re-wear your clothes instead of buying more? Can you cook your meals instead of going out to eat?
The answer is yes. Yes, you can do all of these things to save more money each month. We learned to cook and only ate out once a week. We found an apartment that was $800/month instead of paying $1,200/month for a nicer one in our area. That alone saved us $4,800 per year!
Get creative and put in the time and effort into finding ways to spend less. I guarantee you will save more if you do.
I also wrote an in-depth article about how to reduce your monthly expenses here if you want to read more about it.
Make a budget
Set a budget. In order to set a budget, you need to know how much your trip will cost. Once you figure that out, set a savings goal and a budget.
A savings goal is the amount of money you need to save in order to travel.
A budget is how much money you can spend each month on necessities and living.
Track what you spend each month and make sure you are staying within your budget, so you can reach your savings goal.
You can use a budgeting app like Mint or Every Dollar to help keep track of your expenses. Google Sheets or Excel also work well if you want to track everything yourself.
Part of tracking your purchases also means tracking your income. Recognize when you get paid and pay yourself first. By that, I mean transfer money immediately from your paycheck to your savings account where you will not touch it. Save enough money in your checking account for you to pay for all of your fixed/necessary expenses.
Stop Comparing Yourself
I am especially guilty of comparing myself to others. Social media makes it easy to compare ourselves to people who seem to have their life put together.
One person is sailing the world, another person is building a beautiful home, and someone else has a successful business.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to people who are on a completely different path than ourselves. We don’t know how long it took them to get to that point in their life.
After all, it took Colin and me four years of dedicated saving to have enough for our trip. You won’t suddenly have enough money saved up overnight.
We are all on unique paths, and it is unfair to compare your life with someone else who lives a completely different life than you. Stay focused on what you’re working towards and remember that your path is special to you and that’s what matters.
Don’t let the small purchases get in the way of your goal
Small purchases add up so quickly. I remember looking at my credit card bill one week and was shocked to see I had spent over $500 in one week! I hadn’t made any big purchases.
When I combed over my credit card statement, all I could see were $20 purchases here, and $7 purchases there. Surely, the bank was trying to steal my money. No way could all of those purchases add up to over $500. But, when I added up all those tiny, little, thoughtless purchases, they added up to $514. Somehow, the math checked out.
So this is my warning. Beware of small purchases. It is all the small, seemingly insignificant purchases that will get you the most; multiple trips to the grocery store, gas, brunch with friends, a movie night out, and pretty much anything from Target.
We all feel the weight of spending $500 on something, and we don’t make those purchases too often. Anytime I have to buy a new phone, I feel a bit sick to my stomach because you see that money disappear all at once. But it is much harder to notice how your money is slowly disappearing when you make consistent, small purchases throughout the week.
Making a budget and creating lists are my lifesavers. Learn to constantly keep track of your spendings – this will help you to avoid having a surprising credit card bill at the end of the month.
Pay off your credit card weekly
If you plan on traveling the world, you should definitely get a travel credit card to start building up your points for travel. Credit card points can help you save a lot of money on travel expenses.
However, if you get a credit card, use it as a debit card and pay it off weekly. Credit cards are not a tool to spend money we don’t have – I only use them for the sole purpose of getting points to save money for trips. They should help you to save money – not end up costing you money.
Credit cards typically have anywhere from 10% to 30% interest rates. If you pay off your card each week, you’ll never owe more than the sticker price, and you’ll get points that you can put towards flights, hotels, or car rentals for your trip.
Find other ways to make money
Can you freelance? Or teach English at night? There are plenty of options to make some side money to help you reach your savings goal.
Colin and I both had full-time jobs that kept us busy, but we found ways to make some extra money on the side. Colin took on a freelance client for a few months, and I also did some freelance design work on the side.
We also put a large portion of our savings into an investment account and that was able to create passive income as well. I’m not an investment advisor, so I would suggest contacting an investment firm if you are looking into this.
I know that saving money to travel the world is a big goal, but it is possible.
For me, it was helpful to split my savings goals into mini-goals. Saving $30,000 is a huge goal and feels overwhelming when you are only chipping in a little bit from each paycheck. Mini goals can help you stay motivated and provide you with the feeling of accomplishment you’ll need to keep moving towards your overall goal.
I remember when I saved $1,000 in my bank account after being broke. It was a good feeling. Then, I remember when I had $5,000. My account was slowly growing, but it was headed up and not down. When I finally hit $10,000 in my account, I suddenly felt like anything was possible. I had never owned so much money in my life before as I did at that moment. If I had made it through life up to this point without ever having $10,000 in my possession, I could certainly keep going forward towards my dream. It was a sign that I could do this, and it also provided me with a feeling of safety and security, that even if I had a setback in my goal, I had a safety net to get through it.
Remember, it may take someone 2 years to save up enough to travel the world and someone else 4 years. There is no right or wrong. It doesn’t matter how long it takes – just stay focused on your goal, and you can make it happen!