If my nagging in “The Secret To Creating A Healthy Travel Fund” worked the way it was supposed to, you are, by now, in possession of your very own travel fund. Yay! Be it ever so humble — I know a lot of you just set aside P10! — it’s still a pretty good start. Most people never get around to making the transition from dreaming to doing, so congratulations!
The next step — the next challenge — is to make it grow.
Here’s some good news and bad news.
The bad news: you’ll have to make a conscious effort to save in order to make your travel fund grow.
Remember your grade school lessons about the conservation of matter and energy? Yeah? Well, that applies to travel funds too. The money won’t materialize out of thin air; you’ll have to get it from somewhere. To put it another way, travel funds are one of the five exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration.
Here’s the good news: money is a stealthy little thing. If you’ve ever looked at your credit card statement and marveled at how those little hundred-peso purchases could add up to a 5-figure balance, or if you’ve ever wondered just where all your hard-earned money went — you know, like 99.9% of us do every month — you know how little things can add up. Way up. Personal finance is one leaky ship.
If that doesn’t sound like the “good news” part, consider this: if you know where the holes are, you know where to install the plugs. Make the money leak back in. Examples:
Coffee. It’s one of life’s little pleasures. But a mocha java a day, or every other day? It adds up. Limit your coffee me-times to, say, once a month and you’ll notice the difference in your total expenditures. Money in the bank is a caffeine high all its own. You can think of it this way: would you rather have a Starbucks, or would you rather have a Starbucks in Paris?
Cabs. Yes, yes, the weather is too hot, taking two rides is too stressful, the conductors are too annoying, etc. But just like no one develops six-pack abs without sacrifice…well, you get my drift. If you spend P120 a day on cabs, and give that up, you could save for round-trip airfare to Paris in less than a year. Think about that.
Clothes. Would you rather have another nice little dress, or would you rather be in Paris wearing a nice little dress, a trench coat and boots? (No contest, right?!)
And that’s just the C’s, really. We all have our own little money leaks. Mine was eating out. (“Would you rather dine out, or would you rather dine out in Paris?”) Yours could be gadgets, or bags, or makeup, or massages.
The important thing is to distinguish between wants and needs, and then — because, obviously, travel is not an actual need — distinguish which wants you want more. “I want to meet the Pope more than I want another Havaianas flip-flop.” Focus on your goal, and remind yourself often of it. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.
So here’s a little assignment before Travel Fund 102. List down what your actual needs are every month, and figure out how much you’re actually spending on non-essentials. Prepare yourself mentally to tweak your spending habits. Don’t worry, you won’t have to take a vow of poverty — you just have to determine which little pleasures you can give up to make room for the huge, life-changing ones.