We're on the road a lot, sightseeing and adventuring up a storm. People often ask how we go about budgeting travel, and the truth is that it's a concerted effort on our part.
We save year-round so that we're always prepared when a good opportunity comes up. Everyone has different motivators for becoming financially savvy and to us, travel has been a big part of that equation.
We're working with Wescom, and they've been hugely helpful in teaching our family about budgeting travel with their in-person and online financial education opportunities. Here are a few tips we've picked up along the way for budgeting travel.
Get a baseline. Gather up your bills and write down where all of your money is currently going. That's the first step towards making adjustments, cutting back in areas where you're overspending and budgeting travel into the equation.
Know your banking basics. Look at the fine print details of your current banking situation. Compare interest rates and fees and especially money-back or reward incentives. We put everything on a credit card that we pay off every single month, and we automatically get a certain percentage back for future travel! Wescom offers a great Visa Credit Card® – there’s no annual fee and it does just that- earns points toward gift cards and cash back!
Develop a thorough understanding of your unique situation and goals. If you want to take a $2,000 vacation once yearly, that's a straightforward matter of saving $167 per month. You can even setup auto-withdraw to a designated savings account to make the process easy. The real question is where to find that money! Wescom's Financial Education portal can help you discover ways to cut costs and increase savings with ideas like vehicle refinancing, home investments, minimizing liability with insurance and more. It'll also point out things you should be saving for first like debt payoff, emergency savings, fuel-efficient vehicles, college for teens and retirement – all with a logical, education-based approach to decision-making.
Take advantage of institutional programs, too. Nate's job as a first responder and his former career as a college athlete have helped give him access to special financing and planning resources. Wescom is a big supporter of college athletes specifically our alma mater, UCLA (go Bruins!). Most higher-education organizations or jobs with a union will have something similar that can help your family save for your goals.
Keep travel top-of-mind in seemingly-unrelated financial decisions. We're always asking ourselves how our financial decisions can be further leveraged to help with budgeting travel. One of our vehicle purchases was a truck that has helped us cut down on hotel costs by pulling a camper-trailer for quick overnights (we also use it extensively for farm work, which has minimized the cost of equipment we need to rent and increased the amount we can put in savings each month). When we invest in property, we balance potential rental income against the cost-savings of having a vacation home in an area that we frequent. We can sometimes parlay work trips into fun experiences that hold us over a little longer until the next personal vacation. Even when making household grocery purchases, I'll often grab extra bulk snacks for our luggage to cut down on dining out when we travel. Every little bit counts.
Wescom is hosting a series of money-smart programs featuring their Big Blue Truck with complimentary financial consulting throughout Southern California. If you're local, check them out and learn how to start budgeting travel…or whatever other priorities matter most to your family right now.
Are you working towards budgeting travel? What steps have you taken?