January crawled by so slowly, but surprise! Summer is right around the corner. Have you started saving for your summer trips? Suffering from whiplash? Us too. Summertime may be Pacific Northwesterners’ favorite season because it welcomes many outdoorsy activities: camping, hiking, dog park-ing, and patio drinking. The mosquitos are a little annoying, but some of us are finding a different kind of bite on our arms and legs—from the travel bug. Suddenly Expedia and Kayak tabs are open on every computer, and people are hustling to pull nonexistent money together for a trip. If you can relate, these savings tips may be your one-way ticket to adventure.
1. Set up a separate savings account
It’s so easy to tap into savings when the money is sitting in one account. You can practically hear your credit card screaming, “Shop! Buy! Go into debt!” The best way to resist this temptation is by opening a separate savings account—one that remains untouched until it’s travel time. Either stop by your local iQ branch to set this up, or, if you’re like me and love trying new apps, consider downloading a financial app and saving money in there. Currently I’m using the Albert app, but I’ve heard good things about Digit as well. If you do choose to set up a separate savings account, make sure you’re educated on fees, overdraft protection, and interest rates.
2. Make more consistent contributions
Most deposits occur monthly—things like bills, car insurance, your Netflix subscription, etc. Some say slow and steady wins the race, but with summer on the horizon, it’s time to go into overdrive. Make weekly contributions to your travel fund instead of monthly—if you have the means, of course. You’ll be saving more in no time! If traveling is your number-one priority this summer, consistent deposits should reflect that.
3. Take a raincheck on certain activities
In a June 2017 study, 79 percent agreed that the majority of their paycheck goes toward dining at the hottest new restaurant in town, followed by purchasing the latest electronic gadget, going to see a live show, and shopping for unnecessary clothes. Clearly, some sacrifices must be made if you’re dying to buy that plane ticket. Take a raincheck on happy hours with friends or early morning Starbucks runs with coworkers. Maybe skip seeing Deadpool 2 in the theaters, and forward that money into a travel fund. If it’s something you want, and not something you need, take a raincheck.
4. Prepare your own food
For millennials, the biggest money drainers are bars and restaurants. No matter where you fall on the generation spectrum, convenience is always key. Sixty-six percent of Generation X-ers and 56 percent of Boomers admitted that eating out is their number-one spending habit. See the pattern? If I were a millionaire, the first thing I’d do would be to hire a personal chef—but I’m not, so let’s get back to travel savings. Prepare your own food instead of buying a bagel from the bodega downstairs or jumping on the Chipotle bandwagon. It’s so easy to ignore that lunch you packed from home when a stranger could make you something hot and fresh.
5. Plan ahead, and get creative
How many times have you bought something on the spot only to realize you could have saved money by waiting? Planning lunches, gas refills, and everyday spending habits will put numbers in perspective. Five dollars here and two dollars there doesn’t feel like much at the cash register, but you’ll see it all add up when a monthly statement rolls through. *Cue the Psycho scream*
Another good tip to increase cash flow is to sell old clothes or CDs to places like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads. They won’t judge you if you show up carrying three heavy trash bags filled to the brim. If you don’t have a car or the time to bounce around from store to store, sell clothes online using Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, or Tradesy. I recently downloaded the Depop app on my iPhone to get rid of sweatshirts and home goods. The only thing you need is a PayPal account—and a smartphone, duh.
Okay, let’s wrap this up. Planning a summer trip doesn’t have to be stressful, even though the clock is ticking. There are multiple ways to get financially organized. We just listed five, but maybe you have another trick up your sleeve. Or maybe you know someone who is a traveling-on-a-budget pro. Remember, we’re always here to help, whether it’s saving or better budgeting. Bon voyage!