Friday, June 26, 2009

Financial Freedom: Movie Tickets vs. European Hostel

One of the most common excuses I hear for not traveling is the statement, "I do not have enough money." Are these statements genuine? Yes, but the reasons why they are genuine can sometimes be altered. For example, go to your room and look through your closet. Take in the entire inventory: shoes, dresses, suits, outfits, gaming consoles, amplified speakers, etc. Go ahead, walk into your room and look through all of your things.

Now, what kind of car are you driving? Do you have any extra speakers or seat covers? Do you buy brand name items when you go to the store? Do you go out to eat more than once a week? Did you make your coffee this morning or did you buy it from a local coffee and tea shop? There is nothing wrong with buying things that we want or need. However, there are ways of "trimming the fat" when it comes to our daily expenses and using the money we safe for an exciting trip. So, set your iPhone aside for a few minutes and I will help you figure out a few tricks to help you save money for your dream adventure.

First, decide on where you want to go and how much it may cost. Are you willing to stay in a hostel or do you need to sleep in a hotel? Are you able to travel via train, bus or car? Or do you need to travel by plane? Talk to travel agents, study abroad advisors, and talk to other individuals you trust about the cost of their trips.

Second, create a budget with the money you currently make and subtract all of the necessary bills from your paycheck. With the money that is left over, take a look at how you use it in terms of spending. How often do you use it for fast food, shopping, or entertainment? Do you place any of it into savings or other investment funds?

Third, analyze your spending and see if there is anything you can reduce in terms of extra spending. Instead of purchasing expensive dresses or suits right away, wait until they go on sale before purchasing the items. Instead of buying name brand items, try to save money by purchasing store brand items. Many store brand items are made in the same factory or in a similar way and you pay extra for the brand name. Instead of shopping in expensive stores, see if you can find similar items in dollar stores, discount stores, consignment shops, or even eBay.

Fourth, think about giving up unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, and other narcotics. For example, you could save hundreds of dollars a year by quitting smoking. You can also save the money you spend on alcohol to get another rush such as climbing or taking an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or crossing the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver. The cost of narcotics is tremendous when you consider the product, the taxation, and the fees for health problems that occur in relation to using these products.

Finally, ask yourself if you really need the item you are purchasing. For example, if you go to the movie theater once a week and spend $8 on a movie ticket, you can take the money from three of those tickets and use it for a night stay in a hostel. Ask yourself if you would rather purchase a pair of shoes for $40 right now, or if you can wait until they go on sale and save the extra money to help pay for a trip to Italy. Take the extra money you save and place it in a savings account or special piggy bank that you will only access for your trip.

Personally, I do not own credit cards nor have I ever used a credit card for my travels. I save my money and find ways of curbing my spending in order to travel. You will need to enact a tremendous amount of will power in order to continue saving, but remember that every single cent counts toward your travel dreams. Place a picture of your travel spot in the mirror, on the fridge, or even in your checkbook to remind you of your goals. It does not have to cost tons of money to travel. However, it does help to have money to spend for the trip in order to make it more enjoyable.

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