You know how it goes. Every few months you remember you want to travel – perhaps for the first time, or maybe you’re getting back on the road again – and every time you remember, you resolve to stop spending money on frivolous things and put all your earnings into your travel fund instead.
But then your friends invite you out to another can’t-say-no birthday dinner, or you spot a pair of trousers really “need”, or your dad guilt-trips you into visiting because you haven’t been for a while… and so your money just keeps trickling away on everything apart from seeing the world.
If you’re really determined to go and aren’t just chickening out in a weird passively indecisive way, it’s time to knuckle down and start saying “no” more assertively. But it needn’t be too painful; there are a few easy tricks that should help you save up a healthy travel fund in a few months.
Do a budget and work out how much you’re spending on essentials, then set up a savings account with a direct debit to syphon all your spare income straight into that. It’ll remove the temptation to fritter your cash away in dribs and drabs.
If you have any jobs around the house that must be fixed – a leaking roof, for example, or pipe insulation – now is the time to get it done, with time on your side and no need to pay over the odds for an emergency job. Shop around and use personal recommendations or a website like RatedPeople or MyWorkman to find trusted providers, and ask several of them for quotes. The cheapest one isn’t always best value, but with several quotes you might get the better quality one to bring his/her offer down a bit to win your custom.
You may well be hankering to go on holiday by this stage. Give yourself a fix without spending much by signing up to a house-swapping agency (or swapping with friends who live somewhere nice). You’ll need your own home to offer in exchange, and it must be in good condition – up to the standard you’d expect in a holiday cottage. You could also join a house-sitting agency like TrustedHouseSitters or MindAHome. Some will pay you, and even if it’s not an earner you can save by turning off all your heating and electricity while you’re there, and enjoy something of a holiday for free.
Do a ‘money makeover’. Much beloved by the frugal crowd and fans of MoneySavingExpert, this involves going through all your essential bills and switching providers on any that are offering cheaper rates than whatever you’re currently paying. August is a good time to do this because many energy providers hike rates ahead of winter, so switch now and find a decent fixed rate for the next twelve months or so.
This is a good time to sign yourself up for seasonal work over Christmas – try department stores, or the post office. Make a resolution to give people small thoughtful Christmas gifts instead of expensive gift sets, too – recent research by Travelzoo found that half of women ‘regifted’ toiletries and perfume, saving these unwanted gifts to pass on to someone else (who, presumably, has a 50/50 chance of not wanting them either).
You should be building up a decent fund by now so try not to blow it all on the party season. If you do need to buy things for your trip, however, now is a good time, because shops are typically selling old stock ahead of the new Christmas versions. Summer clothes will be in the sales – ideal if you’re going somewhere warm – and tech items like cameras and satnav will be marked down to clear the decks before the festive season. Sign up to travel deals newsletters and sales alerts for airlines, so by the time November/December roll around you’ll be ready to jump on most affordable travel options for the coming year.