A Few Tips to Downsize your Lifestyle to Save Up for the Big Trip

Sep 11, 2011

Thinking of going on your own Big Trip? Or saving up for something you’ve always wanted to do? It may be going on a major trip, taking a career break, going to graduate school, or just something that you really want to do. Does the cost of doing it a little bit overwhelming? 

When I was starting to plan for the Big Trip I realized that I had to do something more than just setting aside part of my salary. I knew that in order to meet my target of celebrating my 26th birthday on the road, I had to change something with my lifestyle. I had to downsize it and make some adjustments. 

And here some of the things I did to downsize my lifestyle in order to save up for the Big Trip. Read on and I hope they can help you too. 

1. Write down your typical day, week, or month. Identify the activities or expenses that you think you can adjust, or lessen, or even do without. 

My list included items related to activities done with close friends - going out to watch movies, semi-fancy dinners, cab rides, and hanging out at coffee shops. I know it’s fun hanging out with friends and such moments are priceless. But maybe you can lessen them or go to cheaper places. But the best thing to do is to explain to your friends your plans and tell them that you’re saving up for something really important. Because they love you, they will understand and even adjust with you. My friends did and I love them more for it. (Calling out to my superfriends, I love you and thank you!) 

The hardest for me was not going to our weekend flag football games because I really love the sport and my teammates. And I’ve always considered it as an activity to break my monotonous workweek. But eventually I discovered that it was taking up a big chunk of my weekly expenses since it’s located at the opposite side of Metro Manila. And an after-game dinner normally leads to drinks/coffee afterwards. It was hard but I knew that I had to take a break from it for the Big Trip. 

2. Bring out those books/dvds that you bought but never read/watched. 

Since most of your nights/weekends will now be vacant, maybe it’s time to check those books you haven’t finished reading yet. You lessen your expenses and learn new things. Reading good books is always good for you. 

3. Tone down your spontaneity temporarily. 

I’d like to think that I’m a very spontaneous person especially when it comes to traveling. I used to often say yes to travel invites. I even plan them or even come up with the idea. Always waiting for the seat-sale and grabbing it - the ‘book now, plan later’ type of traveling. Which for the most part rattles up my savings and attempts of being a smart spender. 

But I knew that in order to save up for the Big Trip, I had to say no to travel invites especially the spontaneous ones. Even if it meant getting so envious when my friends upload their travel photos in Facebook or talk about it when we’re all together. I just constantly remind myself that I have to forego certain travels for a major one. 

This is also applicable to spontaneous movie/dinner invites. If you know that you’ve reached your ‘lakwatsa budget’ for the week/month, just say no to the invites. 

Believe me it’s going to be quite hard at the start. Again, especially if you’re the travel addict type. ;) But you’ll eventually learn to adjust and say no without thinking twice. 

4. Take the metro or other modes of public transportation. 

This way you’ll get to save on gas if you have a car, or refrain from paying so much when riding a cab. People-watching can be fun sometimes. ;) 

And it’s also a way to prepare for your trip especially if it’s in Southeast Asia or India – think of the cramped buses and trains you will have to endure. I believe that using public transportation is one of the best teachers of patience. You get to spend less and be a better person. ;) 

5. Try to stay away from coffee shops. 

Yes, I’m talking about those frappucinos and lattes. Come on, admit it. They are expensive. So stick to the instant coffees. ;) 

6. Get out of the mall as soon as you’re done with the things you needed to buy. 

Try to go the mall only when you have something important to buy. And if you feel the urge to window shop (which we all know will eventually lead to impulsive buying), stop yourself and get out of the mall as soon as possible. Yes, you can find that will power inside of you. ;) 

7. Always think twice when buying something. 

Yes, I know sometimes it’s quite hard to not go to the mall when there’s a sale. Or buy that dress or shoes that you think will look good on you. Whenever you encounter this kind of dilemmas, think twice first. Ask yourself ‘Do I really need it? Do I need it for the trip?’ If your answer is no, then don’t buy it. Or… 

8. Think of prices (of food, bags, shoes, drinks) in terms of plane/bus tickets or an overnight stay in a hostel.  

I personally find this tip very helpful and effective. I know it’s a little bit extreme but it worked for me. So what I do is whenever I’m tempted to buy something or eat somewhere fancy, I think of the bus fares/plane tickets (or any travel-related expenses) I can buy with that amount of money. I put things into perspective. Try it, it may work for you. ;) 

These are some of the things I did to downsize my lifestyle to save up for the Big Trip. But most importantly you should really want whatever it is that you’re saving up for. Because if you do, the will power, discipline, and focus will come naturally. There will be backslides ahead but you’ll always find yourself back on track. But if you do encounter challenges along the way, just be patient with yourself. And remind yourself that you’re doing it for something important and worthy of sacrificing your social life. Yes, sometimes it will come to that point. But remember that it’s only temporary. You’ll get to reap all the benefits soon enough. You can do it. ;) 

Did you find these tips helpful? What are the things you did to down-size your lifestyle in order to save up for something you’ve always wanted to do?

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