Are you ready to see the world without breaking your bank account?
If THE answer is yes, you are in the right place!
We found a way to make traveling on a budget a reality! My husband is a freelance graphic designer and I am a stay at home mom. We live on a moderate salary and live by our budget. With me at home in this season we don’t really have a lot of room for error we pay the bills, put money aside for savings, and account for life’s daily expenses, and yet we still found a way to travel together as a family!
I will also note really quickly that we worked hard to pay off our debt early in marriage (student loans, college credit cards, cars). I don’t think this is necessary to travel, but I do think you need to be making regular payments on debt before you start planning to see the world! Responsibility before leisure, but that’s just my two cents. :)
If traveling in any capacity is important to you then you must save to travel. Depending on your income and necessary expenses (including also emergency funds, monthly debt payments and savings accounts) you should also have a budget line for travel savings!
For us this comes at an expense. We aren’t new clothes people, or new shoes people. We wear our favorite things out and have to consistently make the decision to not buy everything we “want”. We do the same with home items, toys for our girls, etc. I wouldn’t say we are minimalists (because my floor is covered in things right now) but we aren’t quick to spend. We return a lot of impulse buys and often go back to the store to make a purchase after going home and deciding we really need it and have cash set aside for it. We also rarely eat out. This is more seasonal for us, as in the past we have a lot more often, but with two little girls it’s more fun, and practical to eat at home! This also adds a little wiggle room to our current budget.
Why do we do this? Because we have decided that we would rather see the world than acquire things! So we let that desire lead us to how we decide to spend and save our money. Once you have a working budget, you can see what you are able to save for travel!! In some seasons this may be $25 a paycheck. It doesn’t sound like much but it will add up! And when you get a wedding invite for a wedding on the west coast or find a deal on a cruise you will have money set aside and it will make it an easy yes.
I currently own three credit cards. I got my first one in 2015 when we first got married because I wanted to build up our credit score so we could buy our first house. Dropping $12k a year on rent made my stomach turn every time I thought about it, so that’s really how this journey started. I think it’s important to also say no one ever taught me how to take control of my finances until I was 24. I was the college kid who was living from paycheck to paycheck and, until learning to budget, would get overdraft and low balance alerts almost weekly.
I am so thankful that is not our reality anymore, but the game of credit card rewards can be dangerous if you haven’t yet learned how to budget and control your spending habits. It’s only in 2019 that I have three cards. I’ve had the Capital One Venture Card for over 5 years now and I can share story after story about how it has helped us travel. I’ll briefly touch on the other two cards I currently have and why I got them but first, here’s why I love my venture card.
CAPITAL ONE VENTURE CARD
I got this because I was already banking with Capital One 360. They have an amazing ‘automatic savings’ feature that allows me to automate my monthly savings into 8-12 different savings accounts. Here’s why I applied:
No annual fee the first year, $95 after that.
50k miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months (super easy if you have a family).
The purchase eraser - erase travel-related transactions retroactively with your miles.
They recently announced you can now transfer your miles to 14 different airline partners which opens up a Pandora’s Box of airline specific flight deals.
Earn 2x miles on every purchase.
If you fly at least once a year, then the Venture Card fee would already pay for itself a couple times over. The only thing I don’t use my credit card on is my rent, but I use it on everything else so hitting the sign up bonus was easy. 50,000 miles values up to $625 in travel, that’s enough to fly across the country to visit a long time friend and pay for 1-2 nights stay at a hotel using the purchase eraser.
We spend a week in 30A every year with some friends. This year we booked the house a year in advance and I paid the deposit ($500) with my miles using the purchase eraser. Last week I paid the balance ($1200) with the miles I accrued this past year so I basically just paid for a 7 night beach house with my from my credit card. See how this works? It’s amazing.
THIS IS NOT A PAID AD, WE JUST LOVE THEM, SO HERE’S THEIR LINK!
the chase sapphire preferred
When I subscribed to The Points Guy, these two cards were on their ‘most recommended’ list. I didn’t apply for the business cards and the annual fees that were above $100 because they intimidated me. The Sapphire Preferred seemed like the older brother to the Venture Card and has many similarities. It has different airline partners so it expands your horizons too. With the 50k miles sign up bonus, it was a no-brainer.
the southwest rapid rewards card
I got the Southwest card because they had a promotion where your sign up bonus was the highly coveted companion pass. Imagine bogo flying, that’s what that is. When our daughter, Liv, was born, I paid for all the hospital bills using these two credit cards. I don’t know how I will use all of these rewards yet, but our 5 year anniversary is coming up and let’s just say I get giddy every time I think about it.
If this is new terminology for you, a side hustle is a job in addition to your primary means of income. A side hustle could also be a way to fund travel! For us this has changed seasonally; we have never done all of these things at once, but here are a few examples of our past and present side hustles:
Photography: Colin has a long history of wedding photography. He has a business that he currently isn’t running, but in the past this was a HUGE help in well one paying off our debt, and eventually, it also helped fund a few of our trips! If you are thinking, “I don’t have the skills to shoot weddings but I love photography!” Maybe consider buying a camera second hand and charging friends and families for a quick family shoot. Again, little things add up!
AirBnb Your House: Man this was a fun season! We rented our guest room of our little 3/2 house and hosted lots of couples who were in town for football games. We also rented our whole house out a few times and stayed with friends. This was more of a sacrifice, but an awesome financial gain.
It got increasingly more difficult to pack up and clean our house once we brought our first baby home, so we haven’t done this in awhile. But look into this!! Such a great opportunity for a side hustle!
Yard Sale/ Facebook Marketplace/ Poshmark/ Craigslist : List items you don’t need! You would be surprised how quickly the amounts accumulate if you are able to sell 5-10 items you aren’t even using anymore.
Uber/Lyft: Live close to an airport or in a city? Check this out! All that is required is a relatively new car and good driving record. You make your own hours and can work when it’s most convenient to you! We haven’t done this yet but have friends who have and it’s been an awesome resource for them.
Rover: Love animals? You can watch other people pets while they are away in your own home! This is another option we haven’t explored but we have used this service to find someone to watch our pups and loved our experience.
These are just a few of MANY ideas. Get creative and find a side hustle that works for you!
**Important Disclaimer: Many of these streams of income require you to register your business and pay taxes on the income you receive. If you want to know more about how this applies to your potential “side hustle” look up a local accountant and talk to them.
And there you have it! Start implementing these three steps and regardless of your 8-5 paycheck, you will be able to slowly start saving to fund your next trip! Make sure to send us a message and let us know when you do too!
Colin + Meg