Do you find yourself always overspending on your trips and keen for some expert advice? This is a guest post from my friend and fellow travel blogger Annemarie from Travel On The Brain. A solo travel expert, she also has some excellent budgeting tips and has even released her own e-course!
Stop overspending and learnt to budget!
You’re finally on your holidays and life is good. You have worked your butt off all year and now you can sit back and treat yourself. The flights are booked, your hotel sorted and now nothing is stopping you from going out to explore. Ok, you book a couple of tours and the museum entry was pricy but so worth it, right? A coke here, a gelato there and slowly your travel money is disappearing like your chalky skin colour underneath your new tan. But you totally deserve it. And at the end of the trip you are filled with treasured memories and an overdrawn budget. Why does this always happen?
Trust me, I have been there. Multiple times. It is hard to resist temptation, especially when you have made it on that plane and can finally relax and see the world, at least for a little bit. But catching up way too fast on all the good things you’ve been missing out can lead to holiday hangover and who wants that? I tried the exact opposite approach to see if it would fit me. Pulling a Scrooge McDuck sure wasn’t fun either. And it hurt my feet as I refused to spend a penny on public transportation. So what is the best way out of this dilemma – having fun and that within your actual budget? From my two years of constant travel I believe I have now found the right formula. So here it is.
How to actually set a budget
Think of your budget like a cake. You invested a lot of time and effort in making it. You might have made it mighty or manageable, that doesn’t matter. Now you have to decide what kind of cake you want. Does it need icing or sprinkles or is it good as it is? Basic doesn’t mean bad. Think of the toppings as your extra spending, which you essentially can skip. Can you afford unnecessary indulgences? Would it make the cake that much better? Really?
When your cake is ready, you naturally want to devour it straightaway. But I have to rain on your parade and tell you to stop right there. Now, if your budget is the cake and you swallow it all up, it’s gone and you get a tummy ache. Better put aside a good chunk for later. This is our safety reserve for when things go wrong (such as your sugar levels are dangerously low and there is no cake in the house, except now there is). Do not touch it until your holiday is over, then you can decide to touch it or keep it in the fridge for next time.
So in essence, you shouldn’t think of your budget as this one accessible lump sum of money. Narrow it down and then spend within that new and lesser sum of money. You most likely will be tempted to overspend and sometimes you are forced to – ever missed a flight? – or know you would miss out on a once-in a lifetime opportunity – it was ziplining in New Zealand for me. These are things you need to account for, which is why you need a safety stash.
But how do you stick to your budget?
Just because you are working with less money doesn’t mean you will automatically not step into the pitfalls of temptation. Your first step should be to be brutally real with yourself. What are your current spending habits? You’ve got to be an amateur accountant for a minute (unless you already are an accountant, then be a professional one) and set up a list of where your money goes each month.
How much do you spend on food, drinks, entertainment, activities and your looks? Create an accurate account and detect any patterns. You are most likely to repeat these during your holidays. Think of where you want to spend your budget during your trip and where you will need it as well (food and drink most definitely), then hop over to the internet and check the living costs in your target country. How much cheaper or more expensive is it? That helps with setting a realistic budget.
But you have to keep being honest with yourself for another minute. What are your priorities this holiday? What do you HAVE to see? What can you leave out? If you travel with a partner you should allow for compromises, which might mean spending more. It is alright if you do, as long as you are crystal clear in advance what your expectations are so you are not swayed in the moment to buy into a tourist scam (I am looking at you, “dancing” spongebob cutout I was tricked into buying in Sicily). Set yourself boundaries.
Becoming a budget master
Now the last trick you need to practice is to fight your impulses. Yes, you are somewhat thirsty and the only store nearby sells soft drinks at a ridiculous price. But you’re on holiday and deserve a treat, right? Nope. When in doubt, ask yourself this: would it make your current situation SOOO much better and will become a great memory? If not, you can skip it. When has a soft drink ever change the overall tone of your holiday? A great cake or massive steak maybe, but a soft drink? Again, check your priorities. And don’t let your travel partners talk you into something you know you won’t enjoy. Resist peer pressure, this is not a school outing and you have nothing to prove.
I know, it is not easy to stick to your budget. Especially when everything is new and shiny, the sun fills you up with endorphins and you are just so happy. But your spending habit is like a muscle, you’ve got to train it and might get sore muscles in the beginning. To help you wrap your head around it all and to show you where else you can cut your spending while booking your next trip, I have created a budgeting ecourse. It’s all about keeping the overall quality of your holidays as high as you are used to, but with a price tag that you love.
And keeping in line with the clever budgeting, (which we will go into more detail as well), you can have an additional 25% off of the affordable course by using the exclusive code JANET. The course will be in video format with step by step guides to using booking hacks, with a 3 page long list of insider travel resources and room for any questions you might have. You can find more information on the travel budgeting course page. Hope to see you there soon!