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How I Budget For Travel: 5 Tips to Save Your Dollars and See The World!

 Whoa, how fast did 2015 go? I feel like it FLEW by.

Here’s to another awesome year filled with smiles, sightseeing and spending time with those who matter.

This time of year, the interwebs are flooded with Resolutions. Everyone wants to lose weight, save money and TRAVEL MORE, which is obviously my personal favorite.

However, most people (mistakenly) think they don’t have the money to travel.

People, IT IS A MYTH. If you’re like most of us, it’s not a question of money… it’s a question of priorities.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about skipping your daily latte or never eating out again. I would never.  But I do think establishing (and re-establishing!) priorities is important. You have to decide where your dollars go.

Ask yourself:  Would I rather have a house full of stuff or a passport full of stamps?  Would I rather have a new iPhone or a round trip ticket to Europe? Do I really need to eat out or could I save that money for a meal on the beach?

That said, I do have some some little insider tricks that I’d love to share. These tips are the real deal; I’ve used them myself for years and I’m teaching them to Matt now.  I really think they are attainable for almost everyone.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way!


Save Money for Traveling: Travel Agent’s Top 5 Tips:

  1. Have a Plan:  This one comes straight from my financial advisor, Katie Waters at Stable Waters Financial. I’ve worked with Katie for the last 2-ish years and her guidance has changed my life. Katie is an avid traveler herself, so she helped me see the value of planning ahead. At the beginning of each year, I decide which trips I want to take and how much they will cost. I take that total amount, then divide by 24 (the number of paychecks I get each year). Each pay period, I automatically transfer that amount to a separate Travel checking account. The funds are there when I see a good sale or want to place a deposit on a trip. Easy, automatic, simple. 
  2. Automate Your Savings:  In addition to the savings above, trick yourself into saving more! To do this, I use an app called Digit. Every few days, Digit automatically transfers a few dollars into that same Travel checking account.  It happens automatically and I don’t even miss it.  You can direct the app to save more or save less based on your preferences. This year, I saved over $500 with Digit alone… that’s a round trip plane ticket!
  3. Save Your Singles: I have a weird little rule for myself: I never spend $1s or $5s. All of my ones and fives go straight into a Mizzou piggy bank on my bookshelf. This year, those $1 and $5s were tip money during our Bahamas Cruise. I estimate approx.. $200 of tips that made a lot of bartenders very happy. No Judging!
  4. Found Money: For 15 years, advertising has been my ‘day job,’ mostly on the buying side. This means I negotiate pricing for my clients every single day. If you take one thing from this post, take this: Every single thing in life is negotiable.  Think you’re paying too much for cable/cell phone/internet? Call them up and ask for a better deal. Once or twice a year, I spend 15 minutes on the phone and ask them to lower my rate. Nine times out of ten, it works. That “savings” is now found money that I redirect to my travel account. It can take a little bit of work, but it can also pay off big!
  5. Play “This or That:” For every purchase (really, every one!), I consider what I could buy with that money instead. A $50 dinner out could be several days of street food in the Caribbean. A $200 purse is a hotel room. A new $1,000 TV is a cruise! If your priority is to travel, you probably have the money, it’s just sitting in STUFF. Living in New York taught me that stuff and space drag me down.. I have aimed to simplify my life as much as possible, redirecting those dollars into things and places that really matter to me.

BONUS:  But wait, there’s more!  Here is my 6th tip that I had to throw in.  It’s a plug, but a good one. American Express Membership Rewards is The.Best. rewards program out there.  If you have an American Express Gold or Platinum card, you can unlock a lot of points earning opportunities. What’s more, travel agents can work with American Express cardholders to get extra benefits. For example, I can get you $200 in onboard credit when you book your next cruise with an American Express card!

Note: I do not advocate using a credit card foolishly. Use your head. Also, American Express cards are charge cards, not credit cards, so you have to pay them off each month. However, responsible users can rake in the points and miles, making these cards a great way to supplement that travel account!

For a limited time, I have five referral links to get you a bonus 5,000 or 7,500 miles when you sign up. This is in addition to the bonus that AmEx offers new users.  If you would like a link, email me!

So what do you think?  Did you learn anything new? Curious about Digit? Let me know in the comments.

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Ashley Morris

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