However, one of the biggest obstacles is money, and it holds many back from achieving their dreams of walking in their ancestor’s footsteps. Therefore, it’s worth it to take a closer look at how we can save for that dream vacation.
Nowhere on this list are you going to find advice to skip your favourite latte to save for your dream vacation. Firstly, genealogists need their coffee about as much as we need our cemeteries. Secondly, if you need a coffee, you need a coffee, the caffeine rush is worth $3.50.
Before we look at some great money saving tips for that dream genealogy vacation, think about setting up some constant reminders in your environment that keep you focused on your goals. Put a picture of your chosen destination next to your home computer to keep from spending money online or make it your screen saver on your cell phone. Set up daily calendar or email reminders to keep you focused and on track.
Next understand how much money you realistically need to make that genealogy vacation a reality. There’s a great budget calculator template at the Independent Traveler that will help you figure out just how much you need to save.
Now, what can we do to make that money pile up?
1. Create a Budget - First and foremost, build a spreadsheet in Excel or another program and start tracking every single purchase or payment. Do this for about a month or two to get an idea of where your money is spent. This is a huge eye opener for some people and from here you can consciously decide how you need to change your spending habits.
2. Earn More – Easier said than done, but many people pick up a second part-time job and designate those funds for travel. Or if you have the opportunity to work overtime, those funds can be earmarked for your genealogy travel fund.
3. Selling Items - Go to your closet, garage, and stored boxes to find items you are no longer using. Then you can either have a garage sale or sell them online at Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist or Kijiji. Selling your unwanted things can boost your savings dramatically. I know genealogists who have lots of books, did you know you can resell used books on Amazon. Sell your old and unused clothes in consignment stores. If you treat your clothes well, you can get a small percentage of their value back through consignment shops. My niece divides the plants in her garden and sells them from her front yard. She makes $150 every spring.
4. Stop Buying - Again, it sounds simple but it takes a great deal of self-discipline; especially if you are accustomed to buying the newest gadgets or clothes. The next time you want to purchase something, ask yourself if you really need it. Most likely the answer is no. When you do need to buy items, try to buy them used, and when something breaks try fixing it first. Every time you buy something ask yourself one question: Is this a want or a need?
5.Limit Entertainment - Invite friends over instead of going out, go to places on days they are offering free admission, and look for other free things to do for entertainment. There are definitely plenty of things to do that don’t cost much money. If you like to read, borrow books from the library rather than purchasing. You can also borrow movies from the library as well instead of going to the theatre.
6. Use a Travel Credit Card - Do some research to find a good credit card that offers travel points and that fits your lifestyle. Use the card for everyday purchases, so you can earn points fast. Just remember you have to have the money in the bank to pay it off immediately. I’ve paid for 3 airline flights in the last year using my travel credit card. I pay for all my gas and groceries using my card because those items give me three times the points for these type of purchases. Look for companies that give you a large sum of points to get just for signing up. I’ve seen some people even get two cards to get the points twice.
7. Automatic Transfer to Savings - Once you figure out your budget and the realistic amount that you are able to save, have your bank automatically transfer that amount to your savings every month or every two weeks and do not touch it. It hurts a lot less when you don’t see it. Another way to top up that automatic transfer is with a top plan. My bank offers a plan that rounds up my debit purchases and banks the difference in my savings account. For instance, if I buy something and the purchase is $29.50. My bank rounds up my purchase to $30.00, and the difference goes into my savings account. If your bank doesn’t offer this option, then the good old piggy bank or jar will do the job. Empty your change into the jar every night and deposit it once a month. Every little bit counts.
8. Save on Cellphone Bill - Cut down on your cell phone bill. Analyze your bill and find a new plan. Limit your data and use wi-fi when possible. Find a family plan. Consider finding a new family, did you know you don’t have to be related to take advantage of family plans. Cell phone companies are very competitive, don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal before you leave one for another. Once the cell phone bill is looked after, get rid of the cable bill and watch Tv online.
9. Cut Back on Groceries - Write a list when you go shopping and stick to it! Start eating healthier. Choose unprocessed foods, they are cheaper, and you will notice a benefit to your health too! Plan your meals around your grocery store’s sales, most grocery stores have their specials in an app you can download to your phone. Make enough for leftovers to bring to work for lunches and reduce those expensive dining out lunches. You can bring down your grocery expenses with a little planning.
10. Gifts - Give a gift of service or a homemade gift instead of buying an item.
11. Subscriptions and Memberships - Get rid of subscriptions to magazines and any memberships you can do without or get an online subscription, they are usually cheaper. Consider using Ancestry at your local library instead of purchasing your own subscription. Cut down on the gym subscription, go for a run, walk, surf, or ride a bike instead of going to the gym. It’s much more fun too!
12. Transportation – Reduce you vehicle expenses by walking or biking to work. Great for the environment, your health and your pocketbook. Consider carpooling to contribute to reducing your transportation costs.
Put these money-saving tips into practice immediately and watch your savings grow, your genealogy dream vacation might happen sooner than you think.
Next Post, Choosing a Genealogy Tour Group.