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Have you ever looked at your savings account, saw just enough money to buy a plane ticket and thought, “Should I just book it and go?” Yeah, savings will go down, but you’ll build it back up, right?
In fact, in my early twenties when I was working as a CPA, that’s the only thing I saved money for. As soon as I made enough to afford a vacation, I booked the plane ticket, got the time off work, and just went for it.
Sure I’d have credit card debt when I got back (probably), but it was always a great time traveling!
I’m not saying I regret it. Travel changes you and opens your mind. It truly is beautiful to discover how big (and small at the same time) our world is and to connect with people from all over. Sure, I never regretted going into debt and traveling.
But…there were times when I had nothing in savings and my car broke down. Or I was moving and needed help with the rent deposit. I’m lucky that my parents would lend me money, but I certainly never felt good about asking.
It’s true- I was a CPA who was terrible with my own money.
In fact, it wasn’t until I met Chris when I realized how terrible I was with money. When I moved in with him, we had the dreaded conversation about finances. We talked about my student loans and how I only made the minimum payment. We talked about how all my money went toward travel and yet I complained about contributing to the grocery bill. And when we were talking about marriage, we knew we had to save up money for our wedding. It was a wake-up call that I needed to have.
Because as much as we both love to travel, sometimes it is better to save money than spend it on a trip. And it isn’t just about saving in general. Having savings goals help in order to be in a better financial position in life (and get to travel more)!
So when I see travel groups and quotes saying things like “Quit your job, buy that ticket, and just go…” I can’t help but feel like that is not a sustainable way to live your life…mostly because I’ve been there and done that. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds.
So Should You Save Money or Go On Vacation? Here are 5 Things to Save Money For Other Than Travel
I cannot emphasize this one enough. I never even thought about saving for an emergency other than $200. Did you know that you’re supposed to save between three to six months of your living expenses?! I didn’t… until Chris and I met with a financial advisor when we got engaged and decided to create better spending habits.
Why is it so important to save so much in an emergency fund? Well, for starters, if you were to lose your job, at least you have enough money to survive until you find another job. Also, shit happens in life! Broken furnace, car breaks down, an accident, etc. Basically, having a fund of money to keep for the shitty things in life will definitely lower your stress if those things do happen.
If you only start saving for one thing, this is the one to start with.
Paying Off Debt
Okay, you don’t really save money to pay off debt, but you should definitely prioritize paying your debt…and ASAP. Student loan interest is no joke, and I only paid the bare minimum when I first started out.
I just had resigned myself to making the minimum payments until I paid it off in 10 years… not knowing that I could save thousands of dollars on interest by paying it off sooner. Oh, and no longer having to stress about it the sooner it gets paid is a great perk.
Once I realized that fact, it’s been double loan payments from here, and I’m happy to say that *fingers crossed* they should be paid off 4 years early!
And I’m not just talking about student loan debt here. I’m also talking about credit cards and any other debt. I’ve always been big on paying off credit cards since I hit my mid-twenties and realized that the interest is insane! And if I wanted to get into the travel hacking game, I needed to get used to paying it off every month.
But aside from increasing your credit score by paying off credit cards, it is a lesson on overspending. If you can’t afford to pay off your credit card each month, then it may be time to evaluate what you’re spending money on.
I know I’m not even 30 yet… why should we think about retirement?
It is SO important to start saving as soon as you can. With people living longer on average, you’ll definitely want to spend more of your golden years enjoying yourself, not working because there wasn’t enough in retirement savings.
A lot of companies have a 401k plan where you can elect to take a percentage from your paycheck. If they have a company match (i.e. a company will give you a 100% match for the 3% you put in, meaning you get 6% into your 401k), I would suggest at least contributing enough for the match. The good thing is you won’t even notice that money isn’t there because you never see the money hit your bank account, but the best part is you’re still saving!
For those who don’t have a company 401k, I found this great article all about alternatives for saving for retirement!
Because at the end of the day, don’t we all want to retire eventually and travel as much as we want?
Dreaming of going back to school (or going to school)? It isn’t uncommon for people to go back to get a new degree. But school is expensive (hence my student loan ramblings above)!
Speaking from someone who is still paying off student loans on a degree I don’t even use, I wish I would’ve had the forethought to save my part-time job money during college and summer breaks to at least combat some of the costs.
And if you plan on having children in the near future or already have kids, saving for college isn’t a bad idea. The costs keep increasing, and while it is a topic of the presidential debates, tuition is currently ridiculously expensive. Save up now for the costs and you’ll be in a better financial position later.
Lastly, investing in yourself with continuing education or courses is a great plan. I’ve taken courses on blogging and podcasting as well as gone to conferences for it. It cost money that I needed to save up as an investment in the future of the business.
For the Big Purchases
Guys, this time last year I was all kinds of stressed out while wedding planning. During that process, I realized weddings are INSANELY expensive. So expensive, that I was starting to get ads for taking out a loan to pay for our wedding. I sure as hell was not going into debt over a one-day event.
So I could not be more thankful that we planned ahead and saved up for that sucker. Because, while it was the best day of our lives, I’m glad that the only thing I had to pay for afterward was the hangover the next day.
Aside from weddings, however, saving for life’s big purchases is key. Sick of paying for rent and want to own a home? Saving for a down payment is important for that.
Or if you need a new car, you’ll want to save as much as you can for a down payment to lower your car payments and possibly the interest rate.
Heck, even saving ahead of time for a new computer is smart.
You get the picture. In life, there can be large purchases worth saving money for.
But How do You Save Money?
Okay, I know I’m a travel blogger and just talked about how you should save your money versus spending it in on a vacation. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel.
100% you should get out there and travel! We save for other things and travel a ton! Travel has helped us make the most amazing memories and broadened our horizons. And if you can afford to travel full time- go for it! You can’t put enough value on travel, but if you want to actually travel more and live sustainably, you need to save for these things too.
And how do I recommend saving for all of it? Allocating as much as you can toward savings and split it up accordingly. This is different for everyone based on your lifestyle, income, etc. But see where you can cut back, whether it is dining out less or offering to host a game night instead of a night out at the bars. Cutting back on one thing at a time will help ease you into saving more.
We started doing this during wedding planning and we were amazed at how much money we could save!
We also made a game plan.
Using a spreadsheet for our savings goals has been key for us. We have goals ranging from an emergency fund to the next trip we’re taking. We set a goal for when we’d like to fully fund each thing, and how much to contribute to it each month until we accomplish that goal.
And on one of our podcast episodes, our guests even suggested creating separate savings accounts for things like travel! It can definitely be applied for an emergency fund, education, and larger purchases! Keeping things separate will tempt you less when that trip bug is calling and you don’t have the money yet.
Coming from someone who was terrible with money in my early adult life, I wish I had known these things. I wish I had made more payments to my student loans, was mindful of credit cards and prioritized retirement.
But having a better relationship with money over the years has made travel more possible for us. Because when you’re in better financial health, you can afford to travel more instead of paying credit card interest from the last trip.
Still working on saving money and need advice? We love these books for money advice!
Was this helpful? What other money-saving tips and things to save money for do you have? Let us know in the comments!
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