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Month: May 2018

How We Budget for Our Travels

As you may know, our home base is outside Denver, Colorado and we travel a good amount… at least once a month to various places. Sometimes, we’re only in Denver for 2 weeks or so before our next adventure. We’ve been asked many times how we can afford to travel and budget for it, so I’m here to share all of that with you.

A few helpful things to know about us and our situation:

  1. Jeff and I are both able to work remotely. This means most of our trips are combined work/travel trips so we work WHILE we travel. This is different than just taking a week-long vacation using PTO. I’m writing a post on what that really looks like, so be on the lookout for that soon.
  2. We don’t have kids. We have a dog we travel with everywhere but we don’t have the expenses of having children yet. 
  3. I used to work at Dave Ramsey. Because of this, we’re real big on following a budget and never spending more than we make. We don’t “charge” any of our trips to a credit card and we’re very intentional with our funds.
  4. We’re adventure travelers. This means we don’t usually opt for the high-end/fancy places for lodging (unless we get a great deal or doing a brand collaboration) and we try to find the cheapest flights (within reason when it comes to flight times).

How we can afford to travel

We save up for all of our trips ahead of time. We learned awhile ago that we can either go on vacations and be money-conscious the whole time counting up every dime we spend, OR properly plan for our trip financially setting aside money each month and enjoy the trip knowing it’s already fully paid for. We chose the latter option. It’s a much more enjoyable way to vacation when you aren’t worried about money the whole time. 
We have also learned that where you spend your money is where your priorities lie. For us, it is having experiences and traveling together, so our home is very modest and we don’t spend money on materialistic things we don’t need. We live the minimalist lifestyle and it’s helped us be intentional with our funds so we can see more of the world. 

How we budget for our trips

We use the EveryDollar budgeting software which helps us set aside money each month in a “fund” that we use towards our trips.

Wondering how to get that final number of how much you need to save for your trip?

Well, at first it’s an estimate and you can tweak that number as you go when you start to actually book things (i.e. flights, lodging, etc). 
I get my estimated cost for a trip by adding up the “big ticket items”. This would be flights, lodging per night, ground transportation, and I always add extra for miscellaneous such as activities or excursions. We personally count food and drinks in our normal line item on our budget, so don’t add any additional for the trip. If you’re curious what some possible expenses could be for your trip, check out a list here. 
Here is exactly how we use EveryDollar to budget for trips…
Side note: If you don’t already have EveryDollar, and want it, you can go here to create an account (it’s FREE!)
  1. In EveryDollar, create a line item for your trip and make it a “fund” since it’s something you’re going to be saving up for month after month.
  2. Estimate the cost of your trip (mentioned above).
  3. Once you have that number, divide it by the number of months until you’d like to go.
    • For example, if it’ll cost about $2,000 and you want to go in 5 months that means you’ll need to set aside $400 a month. If that’s not feasible, you’ll either need to lower the cost of your trip or push it out a few months.
  4. When you feel good about how much you can put aside for this every month, put it as the “Savings Goal” in the fund line item.
  5. Every month, put that monthly amount you calculated into the fund and watch the amount grow as you get closer and closer to your trip!

You may be wondering where this money you’ve set aside “lives” outside of EveryDollar. Here are some answers:

  • You can either keep this money in your checking account and just know your balance also includes this fund OR what I do and what I recommend is to have a separate savings account for your trip fund. You can set up an auto draft for this monthly amount to go into the savings account and it’ll be there when you need it.
  • When you’re ready to go on your trip (yay!), transfer all the money from your travel savings back into your checking account and only spend the amount saved and what is shown in EveryDollar.
  • To keep track while I’m on vacation, I drag and drop transactions into the fund (in the app on my phone) when they come through EveryDollar. This helps me track it and tells me what I have left remaining in the fund to spend. Easy!
Budget Tip:  If purchasing plane tickets, I wait until I have enough money saved in the fund before I buy them. For the best time to purchase tickets, read THIS post.
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