Travel Fund 102: The Golden Rule
I hear you: it’s not easy giving up life’s little pleasures. The first time you give up coffee for your “Barcelona Fund” will probably go okay; the second time, not so much; the third time, you’ll probably start asking yourself, “Is it really worth it?” By the tenth time — if you even reach the tenth time — you will probably hate Barcelona. Instant gratification is always so, well, gratifying, that it will take iron will to save up for a travel dream. I know people who can discipline themselves that way, but most of us (me included) can’t.
You know what?
Don’t save up.
Don’t save up in the usual sense anyway. Don’t keep a piggy bank and drop the coins you save, little by little, day by day, from not having coffee or not going to the latest movie.
Instead, pretend you never had that money in the first place.
INCOME minus SAVINGS equals EXPENSES.
This formula is sometimes referred to as the “golden rule” of saving. It means, basically, that you should set aside a certain amount for savings first and use what’s left for your expenses — tailoring, therefore, your expenses to the amount of money left after saving — instead of spending and spending and allocating what’s left, if any, to your savings.
To beef up your travel fund, just tweak that formula a bit:
INCOME minus SAVINGS minus TRAVEL FUND equals EXPENSES.
Set aside an amount for savings and for your travel fund first, then divvy up the rest for your expenses. This way it will hurt only once, and not every time you say no to that
overpriced cup of coffee. If your bank has an automatic save-up feature (BPI, for example) you can use that — the bank will automatically divert an amount of your choice to a separate account, you won’t have to regularly exert willpower to do it yourself, and you’ll have the added benefit of watching your travel fund grow online. (It’s its own caffeine-high, trust me.) You will feel the brunt of having less spending money in the first month or so, but you’ll get used to it fast.
This is actually what I did to save up for my trip. One day I thought, “what the heck, let’s do it,” and set aside a full one-third of my monthly salary. (One-third is high, I know, but when I thought about it, I realized I really only had a few actual needs, as opposed to nice-to-haves.) I can’t count the number of times I fretted over having “no money” — tingbitay comes early when you do forced savings — but my travel fund grew, slowly but surely, such that when KLM tickets to Amsterdam went on sale, I was able to snap up a couple.
And, yes, it was worth it. Absolutely.