I’m not the most budget conscious, generally speaking. When I travel, I absolutely do not stay in hostels or find the cheapest possible flights that leave in the middle of the night. But, my kind of travel does require a certain budget. And, unless you’re banking on a trust fund (take me with you?), you actually have to keep an eye on your spending in order to know whether you can really afford your next vacation.
Disclaimer: I am not a financial expert and you should always do what you think is best with your money. The following is a system that works for me, and I encourage you to try for yourself and see what works best for you and your own money. This is not a sponsored post.
In the past, I’ve operated on a sort of “don’t think about it and it will be fine” mindset. Which, of course, was terrible. So, when I accepted my new full-time position in June, I knew I was finally going to have to get serious about my budget, and my savings account.
After doing some research, I signed up for Mint. I set up two different methods of setting aside money for traveling, which I think of as weekend trip budgets and big trip budgets. Read on for my strategy for budgeting for travel in Mint.
Weekend Trip Budgets
Let’s start with weekend trip budgets, since it’s the easier one to set up.
I started by thinking of how often I would realistically be able to take a weekend trip that I fully fund by myself (not paid for by family, work, conference scholarships, etc.) and how much I might spend on a weekend trip.
I decided that a non-conservative estimate (lol) would be maybe $1000 for a weekend, if I had to pay for 2 round trip flights (I’ll treat boyfriend occasionally) and 2 nights in a hotel. Of course, I could do it cheaper than this, but I’d rather set aside too much and just have more for my savings account than not set aside enough and overspend on trips.
At that rate, I might not be able to afford to take a weekend trip every month, but this is the beauty of Mint.
I can go into my account and divide up that amount so that I set aside a certain part of that every month. So, I might say I’ll spend $1000 on travel expenses every 4 months, and then it will show my travel budget as $250/month, and if I go over that (because I buy the flights and hotel in one month, for instance) it will come out of next month’s budget.
So, you can either determine a monthly amount you can set aside for travel and then figure out how many months it will take you to budget for a trip, or you can decide how much a weekend trip will likely cost you and then divide that by the number of months you’d like to budget for it to figure out your standard travel budget.
Big Trip Budgets
Of course, weekend trips are great, but if you have some serious travel goals, that won’t be enough for you. I see you, girl.
You probably have a big trip in mind and want to watch your savings account grow towards your trip. You can set up a savings goal in Mint to do exactly that.
Just click goals and set up a new goal. You’ll have to designate one of your accounts for the goal, so you may need to set up a new savings account just for travel (if you do, you might want to look into a high yield savings account to help your money grow faster), or you can designate an existing account to be for travel.
Mint lets you estimate the amount you’ll spend on airfare and hotels, as well as food and other expenses, on your trip. Do a quick google flights search and a search on TripAdvisor or your favorite hotel site to get a sense of what your trip might cost.
This starts to get fun because you’ll start getting to look at hotels! Exciting stuff!
Once you set up your goal, you can plug in how much you’ll contribute towards it every month as well and an estimate of when you’ll be able to complete that goal and take your trip!
Keep in mind what’s realistic for you when you establish your budget, because you don’t want to feel disappointed if you aren’t hitting your savings goal month after month.
At the same time, consider which expenses you might be able to cut down on or eliminate altogether in order to truly make travel a priority in your life. For me, that means really looking at my online shopping addiction…sigh.
Then comes the fun part, when you transfer funds into your savings account every month and get to watch as you progress towards your goal! And finally, when you get to take an amazing vacation!
How do you budget for travel? Let me know in the comments!