Hi guys! First, a little introduction: My name is Tessa Juliette from Travel Where to Next and I am a writer, photographer, and Instagrammer. I’m also a self-taught master budgeter, which is why I’ve teamed up with Mint to spill all my budget travel secrets.
The above video is a little intro and a personal story about how I learned all these budgeting secrets. Zelda, my 4-year-old pup, gives budget tips right alongside me. If you don’t believe me, watch the video.
I was never a big saver – honestly, I didn’t think about saving at all. Four years ago, I was constantly scrolling through Instagram with major FOMO (“Fear Of Missing Out,” a very real phenomenon) wondering how some of my friends were going on spontaneous exotic adventures while I barely had enough for a spontaneous brunch. I wanted to see the world, but it seemed so unattainable.
One night, driven by my FOMO, I decided to take a look at my finances. I had to figure out where I was going wrong.
I printed out all of my statements from the past month and went through them line by line. Every single Starbucks coffee, Chipotle visit, and unnecessary shopping trip was highlighted. I deemed all of these items non-essential. After going through the statements I added up all the highlighted numbers. The total was hard to stomach. A realization of how much I had been mindlessly spending, instead of saving. Watch the video to see just how big the number was. Spoiler alert: It was shamefully big.
I decided to cut out as many non-essential items as I could and save that money instead. In my mind, I framed spending money like a detox. Rent, utilities, gas, groceries: these were the necessary nutrients. Starbucks, Chipotle, shopping, (too many) tequila shots at the bar: these were things I would deprive myself of. I told myself I would do this for six months – a long detox, but at the end was the prize: a month long road trip around the US.
I’m not going to lie to you. It was hard. Really hard. I hated saying no to lunch dates with friends. I struggled to stop eating fast food. And tequila… I think I missed tequila most of all.
But as each week passed my detox got remarkably easier. Just like sugar cravings, my need for those things slowly disappeared. I learned to cook better, curbed my shopping habit, and discovered a love for Netflix originals.
After 6 months passed, I looked at my bank account and saw… money?!?! With it, I went on a month-long cross-country road trip with Zelda and my boyfriend (now husband) Matt. We hiked the Grand Canyon, skied in Lake Tahoe and even did some gambling on the Vegas strip.
When I got home I was hooked on travel. And more travel meant more budgeting. But now, I was looking forward to budgeting. What I thought would be a detox turned into a lifestyle change (how many times has a vegan told you that). Now I can’t stop saving and looking for new ways to fit travel into my budget.
If you are game for replicating my approach, set a night aside and pour yourself a glass of wine – make it a big one. Go through your statements line by line and really think about each purchase. Was it necessary? Could you have packed a lunch instead of grabbing fast food? Have you worn that $80 dress enough? At the end, add your non-essential items and think of that number as your new monthly savings goal.
Pick an end date and a specific trip you want to take. Make that destination your phone’s wallpaper. Print a picture to stick on your fridge. Every time you’re about to make a purchase, think about that trip. Soon enough, you won’t have to imagine it – you’ll be there.
Oh and once you’re there, take a shot of tequila for me.
In my next article, I am going to talk about the best countries for traveling on a budget.
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