by Erin Elaine
I recently read a blog post titled How I Afford Travel: badass trips on a not-so-badass budget. I thought it contained a lot of great tips about fitting your dream trip into a tight budget. (Psst – I also recommend The Independent Ladies’ Guide to Solo Travel) Reading about how someone else manages their budget got my thinking about my own.
Since I’ve been living in Madrid, a huge chunk of my disposable income has been going towards travel. Most people dedicate their disposable income to electronics, going out to the movies, going to bars, buying clothes, etc. Living here, I spend a very small amount of my money on those things, and I think that is the key to my budget.
I personally don’t jump through hoops with rewards cards or loyalty programs. The 15 euros a month I might receive in rewards can be more easily offset by simply not buying new clothes every paycheck or only getting 1 drink at a restaurant instead of 3. This is just my own personal style of budget, and it works for me, but it might not work for you.
Below is an example pie chart of how I spend my money in an average month.
Obviously some months I’ll spend more on travel (if I have a longer break or if I’m traveling farther away) but it averages out because some months I spend way less on travel (maybe I only have one 3-day weekend and I go somewhere within Spain). Some months I’ll spend more on miscellaneous items (I just bought a new hiking backpack for travel, since my 10-year-old bookbag is nearing the end of its life) but some months spend nothing. I have the advantage of not having student loans, but my monthly income also isn’t very high, so I think that evens out.
I’m not very good at resisting sweets (I’m trying to stop again) and I’m not very good at sports, but I can prioritize what’s important in my life.
Travel is something that is not only incredibly fun and interesting, I also feel that it makes me a more well-rounded and worldly person, which is something I strive to be. If it’s a choice between a trip and a new TV, I’ll choose the trip every. single. time. I think our society is too materialistic, and spending my money on travel is also a way of rebelling against that. Most people choose between a new cell phone and a new TV – I choose between a new cell phone and a trip to Croatia. Guess which one wins?