Saving money for this trip was both easy and difficult.
It was easy, because the last couple of months I really didn’t do anything but work. I normally don’t really shop or go out to dinner that often so those weren’t difficult things to cut back on. Normally though, I would be going to a lot of concerts and taking trips. With COVID those sources of entertainment weren’t options.
It was difficult because I was the only one working. And when you’re the only one working in a cohabiting relationship through a pandemic you end up responsible for a majority of the bills.
It was also somewhat easy to save, because we had time. We made the decision to do this months before we did it. We knew that once I finished up my job, my weekly income would also disappear. We had to be smart with what we spent money on.
Watching our spending meant, no eating out and no spending money on useless things we didn’t need. I try to live that way regardless. I find that so many of the things people keep in their homes or shop for are completely useless. I try to make purchases with purpose as well as buy things that will last. It’s not always easy because of the way our society and materialistic impulses have been set up, but if you try to you can make yourself aware. I hate waste and there was no point in buying anything that would just be going into storage, so once we made the decision to take on this trip we only purchased things that were essential to our trip.
I also used an app called Digit*, that my sister Romina recommended. The app lets you save up for a goal. You set a goal amount/date and Digit will automatically take money out of whatever bank account you pair it with on a daily basis until you reach your goal. I think you can set boundaries on it, but I didn’t want any because the more money I saved for this trip the better. You can always take money out of it too and put it back into your bank account or set a limit for Digit withdrawing money in case your bank account gets below a certain balance. My goal was $10,000 and I titled it “Farm”. Once I set that up, saving money was effortless because I didn’t have to do anything but continue to watch my spending. $10,000 might sound like a lot of money, but when you add up all the dumb shit you might buy on any given day that you could do without it’s attainable. It’s also the budget I came up with for two people, so you could easily do less for one person. This money is our spending money while we are abroad, it doesn’t include what we spent prior to starting the trip.
In 2019 I backpacked through Costa Rica for four months, went to Peru for ten days, then went back home to NYC for a week before flying to Malaysia/Indonesia and lived off of $7500 for 7 months, so I roughly based my budget for this trip off of that. It averaged out to $41.60/day. Some days I spent more and some less. I also read the book “Don’t Go There. It’s Not Safe. You’ll Die.” which has a lot of budgeting information in it. Cost of living is much cheaper in Central America than it is in NYC/The U.S. which definitely helps.
One more thing I have been doing is using Acorns*. Acorns is an app that helps you invest money. They have different plans you can sign up for and you can attach your account to a debit card so that it will round up your purchases to the next dollar amount and invest the difference for you. You also have the option to allow Acorns to withdraw and invest a certain amount of money every week, bi-weekly or monthly. This is money I do not touch! It’s my safety net for the future or in case of an emergency.
I also love Acorns because they partner with companies like Airbnb, VRBO, Booking and many others that I use while traveling. You basically sign into your Acorns account, go to the “Spend Smarter” link and search for the specific partner you’re looking for or browse through their partners and click the link associated to “book now.” When you book through the link Acorns provides, companies like Airbnb will automatically invest 1.8% of your purchase amount for you. This has allowed me to save money for the future without even trying or spending anything extra. It’s nice because they’re things I’d be spending money on anyway. It’s like a rewards program. Even if you’re not traveling they have dozens of other retailers that will do the same thing.
Regardless of what you’re saving money for, I highly recommend doing all of these things! They make saving seamless.
*Clicking this link takes you to my referral link where we’ll each get $5 if you choose to sign up 🙂