I’ve made no secret of my goal to spend as little as possible. This hard-fought frugality has allowed me to pay the second half of my student loans in 8 months.
While paying off debt only took me 8 months of hard work, reaching my pre-house savings goal is going to take me closer to 8 years than 8 months.
I will still continue to practice a disciplined budget with my long-term goals in sight, but in the meantime, I’m willing to make a few calculated splurges. One of those I mentioned previously is travel.
To that point, I took my first non-family trip since I moved to Colorado and spent two nights in a cottage near Rocky Mountain National Park.
It felt a little wrong to spend the money, but it was money that I had budgeted for this purpose. I’ve been wanting to take a trip like this for a long time, and it was wonderful to know that I could do so without guilt.
Keys to vacation on a budget:
1. Set aside money monthly toward your vacation goals. For me, I budget $22-159/month for travel (the actual amount depends on the amount I make that month). This averages to be about $90/month.
2. Decide what matters to you. For me, that meant finding a place close to hiking. Eating out was not an important part of the trip, so I wanted a place with a kitchen so I could cook my own meals. Paying a little more for my cottage meant I could spend less on food and spend more time doing the things I wanted: hiking and reading. If you’re primarily interested about getting away from your daily routine, consider a staycation…only don’t answer your phone or email, or you may not be able to get “away.”
3. Don’t go if you will have to scrimp in areas you’ll be tempted in. If you love to try new food, don’t go if you can only afford to eat McDonald’s. You’ll either be disappointed or splurge, both that will be counterproductive to your revitalization. Delay your trip until you’ve saved enough to do what you really want.
4. Research, research, research. In the age of the Internet, we can all be our own travel agent. Read reviews to determine the best place to stay for you, not just the highest rated place. After all, people may be rating their experience on factors that does not matter to you.
I’m already looking forward to making a similar trip next fall!