I have some big news: in six weeks I'm heading to Davenport, Florida for a fortnight. And yes, this means I'm totally heading to Disneyworld. I've alluded to this in a few blog posts in the past month or so, so some of you may already know this. What you won't know is that I'm able to go because my mum has offered to take me and my partner as well as my sister, and a couple of our family members are coming along too. My parents divorced just under a year ago, and with that break up came a house sale, so mum decided to do something positive with what came out of all that negativity.
I would never have been able to afford a holiday like that on my waitressing salary, but there are still some fees that need to be dealt with. We need pet boarding (the hamsters and the bunny can't be left to their own devices for a fortnight!), travel insurance, ESTAs (visas), and my uncle recommended bringing £1000 to cover all food costs, days out, anything we want to buy, etc. My first reaction to all of this was 'holy shit'.
Me and my partner moved into our first home (still rented, I'm only 22 and that student loan is looming) in November and needed to furnish that. Then came our first year hosting Christmas for both of our families, and all the expenditure involved in that. So, I started saving at the beginning of January, which gave me almost exactly three months until we travel. Again, with the 'holy shit'. I spent the last week of December creating an action plan of how I was going to save the money I needed to, without having to resort to eating only beans on toast every day. Here are the tips that I've come up with:
Buy a budgeting planner
This thing is the first thing I started off with and it was a total eye-opener. My one comes from That Lame Company, and you can find it here. You write down exactly what you spend, and on what for each week. You set yourself a spending target for the week, and calculate how much is left over at the end of it. You can then see how much you've saved out of your budget each month.
This has really been important for me. It shows exactly where my money is going, and was quite shocking in some respects. I could see how much I was wasting on things I really could be doing without, and it showed that all those little trips to maccies or cheeky wine nights really added up to be quite a bit of money.
Decide where your priorities lie
Once I could see exactly where my money was going, I could decide where I wanted to cut down spending. Eating out, or ordering in was proving to be a MASSIVE expenditure for me. I work lates a few nights a week, and the temptation to pop into KFC or Subway as I walk past at 11pm is sometimes a little too tempting, especially if I only have food that requires effort in the house. I've now upped my weekly food shop spending a little so that I always have food that's easy to make and eat in the house, and almost cut out spending money on takeout. This has made a huge difference to my weekly spending, and was something that was easy to do once I thought about it.
No spend months are just so miserable in my opinion, and I always end up splurging as soon as the 'no spend' period is over. I really don't want to do this at the moment, so I've continued to buy the odd treat, or thing I need.
I budget for my bills and my pets and the food shopping first, as they're the necessary things in my life. I know I'll always need to buy them. These are my top three priorities, so I know I can't stash away the money that I spend on them for the holiday.
Write down things you want to buy
I'm an impulse buyer. It's true. I'm that person that gets sucked into adverts and just wants to buy products as soon she reads about them on a blog. Writing down things I want has been so helpful in dealing with this. It forces me to question whether I really want to buy the item. On my list recently have been: getting a gym membership, buying lampshades for the house, buying a Liz Earle cleanser and getting some chicken wire for the garden (to stop the bun from digging). I've now got the gym membership as it's the thing that's most important to me, and the others will just have to wait for a bit.
Buy a 'smash only' money box
This one seems a bit backwards. Why buy something in order to save money??? But, it has been so helpful. As I'm a waitress I get a fair few tips coming in. Usually these go on bus fair, little maccies adventures, or just things that I fancy in shops. My tips are where the majority of my disposable income comes from. These pay for days out, meals out, trips to the cinema, etc. At the beginning of January I bought a hella cute money box that you have to smash in order to get any of the money out. Since then, as soon as I've gotten any tips I've put them straight in the box. I won't be able to get them out again until I smash it just before holiday, so there's no temptation to take it out for anything, because I just can't.
Save your side hustle
Anything that comes in in the way of blogging, or the freelance editing I do for an academic journal goes straight into my savings for the holiday. This way my main wage goes towards all the necessary expenditures of life and I can keep the rest for a holiday. If you don't have a side hustle, then have a cheeky scour of Pinterest, as there's tonnes of suggestions of things you can do on there. I found People Per Hour through it, and though it takes a while to get into, I have made a little bit of extra money with it.
Spread out the holiday costs
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there's a few things we need to buy even before we leave to go on the holiday. Leaving them all to the last minute is usually my jam, but this year I've gone for a different tactic. We're going at the beginning of April, so I sorted out the bunny boarding to be paid at the end of March, the ESTA I paid out in January, and the travel insurance we did a couple of weeks ago. I effectively made a list of all the things I needed to buy, or spend money on, and made sure that they wouldn't all hit my bank account in one go.
Have you got any exciting trips planned this year?