If you only ever need to know one thing about me, it’s that I base my life around the ancient proverb, “Treat yo’self”. Admittedly, this is probably why I have such a hard time dealing with the concept of saving money.
Last December, my partner and I decided to jump into an overseas trip with the whole “both feet in at once” technique. If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that we have booked an extravagant, 2-month holiday to Paris where we plan to eat our weight in cheese and drink each other’s weight in wine (more for me that way).
Throughout the planning process, I never had a single doubt in my mind that a year’s deferral from my University studies and full-time work would save me more than enough money to live the life of a Parisienne high roller while we are there. Unfortunately, the last 8 months have shown me otherwise and taught me a serious lesson about saving and the weight of dedicating so much time to a single trip.
The rollercoaster that has been my 2017 so far, has certainly been enough to make me squeal in delight and vomit up my dagwood dogs. I have ricocheted between weeks where I have spent a full week’s pay because I definitely deserve it, to weeks where I lived off 2-minute noodles and leftovers from my parents’ places.
During this time, I encountered a bit of a moral dilemma and I warred with myself every day about whether or not it was all worth it. Is it really worth the blood, sweat and tears of working long hours every day for a whole year to live it up for a couple of months? (Of course, this debate comes during the hard yards, and I understand that there will likely be no question about it when I’m sipping a Merlot by the Eiffel Tower).
As I near the end of my saving, and find that I am left with not much to show for my year of travaille, I feel like I can reflect on these thoughts in hindsight. Saving for a huge trip can be daunting, and you can feel like you are missing out on so much. The trick is, to not miss out on everything – you have to just miss out on just the right amount.
Where you might miss a regular brunch at the beach, compensate with a weekly brunch in the country you are visiting. While you may miss a coffee with a friend, pick her up and drive her to the park where you can share a thermos of hot tea instead while you spill the gossip.
I have come to realise that it’s not about missing out, but prioritising and keeping that end goal in mind. At times, full-time work can be draining and can leave you feeling overworked and depressed. The end might not be in sight, but I can promise you that it’s there.
So if this is you, and you’re trying to save for your big trip, here are some helpful tips that might just get you through.
1. Have a countdown. Trust me, it works. If you can put into perspective how much time you have left, it will appear more real and more within your reach.
2. Have a budget. Look, I know nothing about budgets either, okay? But I managed. Simply figure out roughly how much you can earn before your trip, how much you will need to take with you overseas and then use that information to figure out how much per week you should be saving. If you work hard, put in the effort and really try, then you might just have some money to come home to as well.
3. Keep your ‘travelspo‘ close. Whether it be your phone wallpaper, a scrapbook or your best friend, make sure you always have access to something that reminds you why you are travelling. I found that the hardest days to get out of bed were when I questioned why I was putting so much effort into getting up every day. When I lacked motivation, I would check my countdown, fawn over tumblr. and ring my partner to tell him that we were one day closer to our dream.
4. Tell everyone you possibly can about your trip. I sort of stumbled across this accidentally – I have quite a big mouth and, being a barista, I tend to tell a lot of my customers about my personal life. Funnily enough, when there were days when I would rather do anything but make their coffee, they would help push me through the day by asking me how my plans were coming or giving me travel tips. Other people can hold you accountable for your goals and dreams if you make enough noise about following them.
5. Allow yourself a timeout, and an occasional luxury. There’s no use wallowing away a year. Time is valuable so it is so important to remember while you are saving that life doesn’t stop. Spend time with friends and make time for your family, because while Paris may always be there, they may not. The world is your Oyster, but your family is the pearl.
And alas, the end of another post and lightbulb moment where you say “ahh yes, she was so right. I should subscribe”. Kidding! (Not kidding, subscribe, subscribe, subscribe!).
I hope that the advice I have given is enough to get you through even a day along your tough track because then it will have all been worth it. And even if it isn’t, I will most likely revisit my own words when I plan for my next trip for proof that I overcame this feeling of hopelessness and frustration…and hopefully I will read it on a blog filled with pictures of my travels and posts about the beauty of the world.
As a final note; amidst the saving, never forget the words of our ancient ancestors – “treat yo’self”.
Votre amie dévouée,
La Femme de Faim x