Wednesday, February 8, 2017

how I saved $18,000 for travel in just six months

Last year was the year I decided to stop fucking around and get serious about my savings. I wanted to feel comfortable taking long chunks of time off for living on the road, and I knew I needed to be more financially stable to do it. At the beginning of the year I set a goal to save at least $10,000, and I blew that goal away in a matter of months. Here's how I did it.

I worked two jobs. I worked as a waitress during the day, and as a bar tender at night. Most days I worked double shifts (working 10-5 waiting tables and then working 5-10 tending bar). I preferred to have two days in a row completely off to relax and take care of some household chores, but I spent a lot of my days off filling in for my coworkers. I worked every single day of October.

I put all of my tips, along with my paychecks, directly into my savings account. I put only the money I needed into a checking account.

I cut out all unnecessary spending. It wasn't hard, considering I worked almost every day and had no time to go out to eat or go shopping, even if I had wanted to. I worked at two restaurants, so I ate my meals at work, for free (most restaurant offer their employees a free meal for each shift they work), and therefore I really didn't need to buy a lot of groceries.

I kept track of how much money I made in tips every day on a pocket calendar I stored in the glove compartment of my car. There are also some handy apps you can use to track tips, but I prefer this way so I can easily see developing trends, and make quick calculations.
At the beginning of last year I really had a change in thinking about how I should handle finances. I became more disciplined. I worked really hard, and it paid off (pun intended). If you are looking to make travelling a priority and need to make some fast cash to fund your adventures, here are some of my tips.

1) Set a specific goal. I set a goal to save $10,000 and actually having a concrete number I was going for made a huge difference in how I tracked my progress

2) Make some changes. Maybe you don't have time to watch Netflix because you're working so much? Or you realize that you can rent DVDs from the library for free, instead. Cancel your gym membership until you have more time to actually use it. Drink the coffee at work or make it at home instead of buying some on your way to work. Cut back on little expenses like these that quietly add up.

3).Get uncomfortable. You're so freaking exhausted the last thing you probably want to do is cover a shift for that guy who always asks, but do it. Say yes a lot. Sacrifice some of your time off to work a few more shifts.

And, finally, here are some of my tips on what not to do when you're trying hard to save money.

1) Don't spend your cash. When you work at a job where you get cash tips, don't be fooled into thinking you're rich by the stacks of money in your hand. Put it in the bank, into a savings account, specifically.

2)  Don't "forget" to tip or under tip bar tenders, waitresses, and baristas when you do decide to go out. People in the service industry people work hard for a tiny minimum wage and rely on tips to make a living (especially wait people, who can make as little as $2 an hour). Tipping at least twenty percent won't break your bank (and if it will, you shouldn't be going out in the first place). Don't be a dick.

3) Don't stop once you hit your goal. I hit $10,000 a few months in, and while I was really excited, I didn't stop going hard until the season finally ended. Keep up the hard work.

4) Don't neglect your adventure mobile. Tune ups may seem expensive, especially when nothing really seems wrong, but a little investment in upkeep may help you avoid costly maintenance on the road.

5) Don't blow your savings once you hit the road. Remember how hard you worked for every one of those dollars. Spend them wisely.

I am so proud of my accomplishments last year, and I have been reaping the benefits of all my hard work all winter long (I've been on four long trips, and I even bought myself a new cute little fuel efficient (used) car for day to day driving). I'm not going to try and tell you that it was easy, though, it wasn't. It was grueling, both mentally and physically. It's really something I had to push myself to do, every day. Believe me, however, when I say that all those long days were worth it in the end. Now I am ready for another grind once spring comes again, and I look forward to setting and crushing some new goals when the time comes.

What are your money saving goals for the year? What helps you stay disciplined? What are the best tips you've ever gotten regarding saving money? Let me know!
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7 comments

Dolly Rocker said...

I'm currently trying to save up to go traveling, so this was really inspiring to read! I can't believe you saved up so much in such a short space of time!

RandyAbby said...

YES THIS IS EVERYTHING !
i am a barista at this time, and coming from a little library where we DIDN'T get tips, i suddenly have found myself with a little bit of extra cash. it's definitely nowhere near what you were making with your longer shifts and then both jobs, BUT it is more than the zero tips i was getting before.
the first week at my job, i spent my tips within the next as part of Christmas shopping. but then i decided to start putting them all in a little mason jar. in two months i had a good amount and didn't even spend half of it this past week in texas.
i am already bursting with ideas for summer. AND saving more as the days go by.
i think ideally i would like to have a job i could take with me on the road, and just live full time playing music and on the road. but until then, this filled me with hope and determination.
we just have to do hard things.
it really pays off!

Megan said...

YOU GO!!!!! That's amazing! Have fun traveling :)

Last year was my year to be sick and get behind on everything, hoping to get things back on track this year- including going places! (And saving to do so...;))

Laura Jones said...

that's amazing, well done you! this is definitely something i should think more of. at the minute i have done a budget for this year that should make me save some money, but nothing like what you've accomplished:-) xx

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making your road trip funding transparent! There are so many blogs out there with beautiful people doing amazing things and its difficult to understand how they bankroll their trips. Hard work and sacrifice, thats how!

HollyMac said...

I'm in the process now of saving as much as I can before I hit the road for 3 months.
What helped me:
I saved my end of year bonus.
I banked my tax return.
I sold gift cards for cash on raise.com
I sold used books for cash at a book exchange.
I cleaned out my house of anything that wasn't useful and had a yard sale (ask your friends if they have anything to donate to your sale)
I gave blood (seemed odd at first but it's a great cause)
I am saving all my change then casing it out at coinstar.
When I have time, I offer to pet sit.

You just need to get creative and stick to it.
'The difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline"

HollyMac said...

I am currently saving money to take off on a 3 month hiatus/road trip. I find myself finding more and more ways to save and it's been fun! Maybe I'm a bit obsessed, but it sure has brought out my creative side!

Here's my money saving ideas I've used:

I saved my year end bonus (MasterCard gift card) that should come in handy on the road instead of cash.

I saved my tax return and put it in savings.

I sold Xmas gift cards for cash (the ones I'd never use) on raise.com. I loved this. They sold in a day and the money went straight into my savings account.

I gathered tons of old books from my shelves and sold them at a book exchange store. (Ask friends if they have books to donate).

I donated blood. The thought of this seemed a bit odd or creepy at first but it IS a great cause and always needed! I got over it.

I cleaned out every closet in my house and determined what was no longer needed or useful and held a yard sale. (Ask friends if they have stuff to donate).

You may laugh at this one, but in my area we have a bulk pick up service of trash. Folks put out their discarded items on the curb to be picked up. I found several small pieces of furniture, took them home, repainted them to look like new and sold them during my yard sale.

I saved my change and turned it into cash at coinstar.

This has become such a fun challenge, to see what ideas I can come up with and I get so excited when I see my savings increase!

"The difference between a dream and a goal is a timeline".

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