5 Obvious (and Not-So-Obvious) Ways to Boost Your Travel Fund
Because I travel a lot, many people tend to make assumptions about my background – they assume that those who travel frequently are somehow loaded. However, if you’ve been keeping up with my articles, you know that I did not come from money and travel was not a part of my upbringing. Instead, my ability to pull together the funds to travel comes to down to how I manage my finances and stick to my budget. I recognize that, depending on your income, it might be hard to save a lot. But trust me, every dollar adds up.
Here are 5 obvious and not-so-obvious ways to boost your travel funds:
1. Automate Your Savings
Most people can use some help with managing their finances. Make your life easier by automating your savings! My good friend from college, Iris González, created a wealth management course to help people reduce their stress around money and set up a no-hassle system that works for you. Her system helped her eliminate $40K of debt. Check out her free course. Also, the app Qapital is a useful automated savings tool. My friend was able to save $600 on there in 2 months!
Not So Obvious
2. Increase your Free Fun
Friend: Hey Jewels, do you want to grab a smoothie after work?
Me: No, I just went grocery shopping and I can make a smoothie for us at my place!
Friend: Hey Jewels, do you want to come with me to the Lauryn Hill concert?
Me: No, I’m not paying for her to more than likely not show up. We can listen to her perform live on YouTube at my place! She’ll def be there.
Friend: Hey Jewels, do you want to go clubbing with me and stand on some couches?
Me: Girl, I’m not paying to be in a sweatbox. Besides, I can only party once every couple of months. How about we catch up on How to Get Away with Murder?
While the content of your conversations with friends may be different, the essence of them is the same: many of us are constantly invited to places. Being social is vital to our health, but it can get expensive. Here are some tips to help you manage this expense:
Conduct a fun analysis: Being in my late twenties (that was pretty weird to write… where did the time go?!), many things that used to be fun for me just don’t cut it anymore. For instance, during college and a few years after college, my party tolerance was high. I could party every weekend without hesitation. Now, fun to me is movie nights with friends, kickbacks at someone’s place, attending performances and cultural art shows, and Netflix binges.
Set your social monthly budget: Knowing what you like to do makes it easier to say no to other things. In my example above, I already surpassed my budget for my stand-on-club-couches fund. Make sure the paid activities you are saying yes to are actually things you want to do.
Google free activities in your city: You will be surprised by how many cool free things there are to do! It’s important to provide some alternatives when you say no.
Keep your friends informed: At one point when my social budget was a little lower than usual, I sent out a PSA to my closest friends saying that, in efforts to get my money right, I will only participate in free activities. They were all receptive to this.
Monitor your money: An excellent free service is Mint- you connect all your accounts and they monitor where your money is going. This is a fast way to identify potential ways you can save. You may think spending $10 on lunch three out of five days of the week is not bad. But in 4 months that adds up to $480. You can easily find flights for this much amount or less on sites like The Flight Deal and Airfare Spot.
3. Accumulate Frequent Flyer Mileage
Make sure to sign up for frequent flyer programs and collect mileage on your travels. Over time, this can be useful! My friend booked all her flights for her a seven-country global excursion using miles from United Mileage Plus program. Her mother, who travels a lot for work, also donated miles to her daughter’s trip. Read more about how she did it here.
4. Use Credit Cards with Rewards
I have a Capital One Venture Rewards Card that gives me 1.25 miles on every dollar purchase. Upon signing up, most credit cards give you a large amount of miles (20k+) if you spend a certain amount within three months. I often make large purchases on my card to get the points and then pay it back ASAP. Last year, I upgraded my life and got the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. Using points from my Sapphire Reserve, I was able to book 5 flights totaling $2,000. Read my review of the Sapphire Reserve here.
5. Get Paid to Take Surveys
E-rewards is a market research survey company that rewards you for your opinion. It is by invite only but if you give your email to one of their partner companies, you will more than likely receive an invitation. Surveys take about 20 minutes and you can get up to $5 in currency (sounds like an awesome lunch break activity). I just started doing this and I’m excited to accumulate currency because they have a variety of travel rewards.
UserTesting is another reputable company that pays people $10 per study to test websites!
Swagbucks is an online rewards website that gives you free gift cards and cash for things you already do online. My favorite way to earn SB is by taking surveys and shopping at my favorite stores. I've already earned a couple of Amazon gift cards from simply having the Swagbucks plug-in and activating it when I shop. You can sign up for Swagbucks here.
As you can see, regardless of your income, there are many ways to increase your travel fund! How many of these are you practicing? Let me know in the comments. Happy Travel Fund building!
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