Raise your hand if you’re bad with money.
You can’t see me but both of my hands are hiiiiigh in the air and I’m waving them like I just don’t care.
Except I do care. Because I’m horrible with money. And I’m moving to Ireland in May and need to have a certain amount in my bank account. Do you see where this is going? I need to be saving money for travel.
I’m not an expert
I feel totally unqualified to be writing this post. I’m not kidding when I say I’m horrible with money. I get my paycheck and immediately turn around and spend it on new clothes, makeup, snacks, dog toys….you name it, I’ve probably blown a paycheck on it.
But for some reason, I have this sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one. And that’s why I wanted to write this post. This post is not the kind of post that’s going to tell you to stop ordering your Venti Iced Latte at Starbucks every day and instead switch to a Grande Iced Totty with cream to save money (disclaimer: I don’t know if that’s even real). If you’re the type of person that has money to stop at Starbucks every day regardless of what you’re ordering…..this post probably isn’t for you.
This post is for the millennial who digs in between the seats in their car because they just know they dropped a quarter down there three months ago and they need it to get a Dr. Pepper from the vending machine at work. No shame in our game.
Not your average money post
When I started writing this post, I titled it, “Saving Money for Travel: A Guide for People Who Suck with Money,” but I realized that my advice was generic, boring, and felt a whole lot like beating a dead horse. You know the tips: figure out your income vs your expenses. Cut back where you can. Pick up extra income where you can. Open a travel account. Live at home.
We’ve all heard them and I don’t want to shove them down your throat yet again. Instead, I’m going to tell you about my struggles with saving over a multi-part series. This post (the first) is just going to fill you in on my backstory and my goals. In a few months, I’ll check back in to tell you how my savings plan is going. Right before departing in May, I’ll update you one final time with my grand total. I’m hoping that it will make you realize that you’re not alone if you’re absolutely horrible with money. Shameful savers, unite!
Why and what I need to save
Because I am moving to Ireland on the working holiday visa, I have to have a certain amount of money before the Irish government will even let me into the country. I can have one of the following: €1500 PLUS a return plane ticket OR €3000 without a return ticket. I’m going for the latter because I don’t want to purchase a return ticket so far in advance. With the USD to EUR conversion rate right now, I need to have about $3400.
I also need to have an additional $600 or so to pay the fees for the company I am going with (look for a post in the future about the pros and cons of going with a company) plus money for my plane ticket to Dublin, probably around $800. Altogether, I’m looking at $4800 which I want to round up to a grand total of $5000 saved by May (minimum).
Now that may not seem like much for some people. And if it doesn’t sound like much, this post probably isn’t for you because it scares the hell out of me.
How I got here
I’ll be completely honest: I have almost $0 to my name. Yup. Many years spent on a college campus (6 total with grad school) with low-paying jobs and an expensive lifestyle really took a toll on my bank accounts and I’m paying for it now. And it’s making saving money for travel extra difficult.
Up until this point, I have been using a credit card. A little over a year ago, I decided that a credit card would be a great way to get back some of the money I spend (hello, rewards!). This is probably where you’re expecting me to say, “Don’t sign up for credit cards, kids!” but I’m actually going to say the opposite. I earned back over $200 in rewards with my credit card. If you’re responsible enough to pay off your ENTIRE balance each month, having a credit card isn’t a bad thing. But I recently started falling behind on mine and have decided that I need to stop using it for every purchase. After I catch up on paying it off, I’m switching to a new savings system.
My game plan for saving money for travel
I get paid every two weeks, around $600 for each paycheck for a total of $1200 per month. I also do some freelance writing on the side which pulls in a little bit of extra cash, bringing me up to around $1400 per month. In order for me to save $5000 by May, a minimum of 45% of my monthly income needs to go straight into my Ireland fund.
Here’s what I know about myself: I LOVE shopping. I am really really good at spending money and of course, I also have very expensive taste. Because I know this about myself, I know that I can’t cut out “fun spending” completely. I would go crazy and probably go on some kind of binge shopping spree at Ulta. Instead, here’s my game plan:
-When I get my paycheck every two weeks, 45% will automatically go straight into my travel account. I figure this is a foolproof way of ensuring I have at least my required $5k saved by May.
-All of my required expenses will go on my credit card and paid off every two weeks when the paycheck comes in. These required expenses are things like my cell phone, gas, food, etc.
-I am allowing myself $60 IN CASH out of every paycheck for “fun spending.” I already have a bunch of things on my wish list for Ireland like a new rain jacket, a GoPro, etc. I’ve told myself that this $60 can be used however I want. To buy a GoPro, I’ll have to save for a couple of months. The really big thing for me here is that this spending money is in cash only. With this system, I figure that there will be no mistaking when it’s time to dial back the “fun spending.” When it’s gone, it’s gone.
-Any money still left from one paycheck when the next paycheck hits will also be transferred into my travel account.
So there you have it folks. My ingenious savings plan. It’s revolutionary, I know.
I know that this might seem simple or downright trivial for some but I hope that some of you read this and find reassurance that you’re not alone in sucking with money. And even though we suck with money, we can still see the world like the good savers!
And with my savings plan in hand, I am off! I’ll check back in with you in a few months to let you know how my spending is going.
Do you have any great tips for me about saving money? I need all the help I can get! Leave your suggestions in the comments below!
-The Wayfaring Photographer